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Chelsea will have new boss when they visit


CHELSEA will have a new manager in place when they arrive in Kuala Lumpur in July but chief executive Ron Gourlay could not say who that might be.

The deposed European Champions League winners will visit Malaysia for the  fourth time since 2003 to play the national team on July 21 but one thing  Blues fans can be sure of is that the much despised interim manager Rafael Benitez would not be part of their three-city Asian tour.

   Gourlay would not be drawn on who would replace Benitez in the Chelsea hot-seat  other than to say that the manager has a target of achieving a top-four finish in the English Premier League at the end of the season.

   "It's not right for me to get into the speculation surrounding Rafa. We said on day one when Rafa came into the job that he would be the manager until the end of the season," said Gourlay in Subang yesterday after announcing Chelsea's pre-season plans including the July 21 friendly against the national team.

   "Our aim is to secure Champions League football which is important to the football club's philosophy of securing success on the field. We will do everything in our power to finish in those (top four) spots.

   "As for the manager, Rafa is the interim manager till the end of the season and is only focused on the games coming up."

   Chelsea fans have never taken to Benitez, brought in to replace the sacked Roberto De Matteo, due to the Spaniard's previous stint as Liverpool manager.

   Benitez has said that he will not be staying on as manager after this season and criticised the club for giving him the title "interim".

   Gourlay said Chelsea are happy to return to Kuala Lumpur for the  fourth time,  having played in the Premier League Asia Cup in 2003 and friendly matches in 2008 and 2011.

   On their last visit, Chelsea defeated a Malaysian Selection 1-0 featuring a mixture of seasoned and young players selected by national youth coach Ong Kim Swee as the national team were unavailable due to World Cup qualifying commitments.

   "We are happy to be back as we had such a wonderful experience here, always a fantastic reception from the fans. The facilities here are second to none which is absolutely critical to our preparation.

   "We will be here for five days which will give the fans the ability to watch our open training and do questions and answers. It's not about Chelsea coming here to play and moving on as corporate social responsibility is very important to us with one of our best programmes here in Kuala Lumpur," added Gourlay.

   National team manager Datuk Subahan Kamal said the national team will take on the Blues this time around.

   "The last time, due to our World Cup qualifying match in Singapore, we could not play them and fielded our reserve team instead. We are really looking forward to it and we are all geared up," he said.

   Tickets for the match, the second of Chelsea's Asian Tour after Bangkok (July 17) and ahead of Jakarta (July 25), at the Shah Alam Stadium will be on  sale in May.

Chelsea Football Club chief executive Ron Gourlay at the news conference on Chelsea’s pre-season Asian tour in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. AP pic

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