The Premier League giants will face J-League outfit Yokohama F. Marinos on July 23 in their first game on Japanese turf for five years. “Manchester United has great memories of playing in Japan and our game against the Yokohama F. Marinos will play an important part of our pre-season preparations,” said United chief executive David Gill in a statement.
“The Nissan Stadium (in Yokohama) is one of the best in the world and Manchester United has a connection with it, having become the first English team to win the FIFA Club World Cup there (in 2008) .”
The president of the Marinos, Akira Kaetsu, said the team was honoured to play against United, currently top of the Premier League.
“We will show our best performance during the 2013 season so that on July 23, as a team that represents Japan, we can make a great impact on the soccer fans of the world,” he said.
Kagawa, one of the star names in the Japanese national side, signed for United last year in a big-money move from Borussia Dortmund and is keenly followed by Japan’s media.
Japan is the third stop announced on United’s pre-season tour, aimed at cashing in on the club’s legions of fans across Asia. They will play in Australia on July 20 and in Hong Kong on July 29. [Source: Sport 24]
It’s all about brand positioning isn’t it? Following their summer tour in the US last year, Manchester United engages with its Asian fanbase and capitalises on sponsorship opportunities in these markets. Global clubs have major sponsorship deals with Asian brands and the pre-season tour will offer a meaningful platform to position the Manchester United brand in these markets.