Arsenal to play Vietnam friendly in July

Arsenal are set to become the first English Premier League club to play a friendly in Vietnam with a game in July during a pre-season tour of Asia.

Arsenal executives are currently in Hanoi meeting officials from the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) to negotiate a fixture against the national team, VFF spokesman Nguyen Lan Trung told AFP.

"The VFF and Arsenal Club have agreed to organise a friendly match at My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi on July 17," he said, adding that no formal deal had yet been signed.

VFF said the match would be partly sponsored by Hoang Anh-Gia Lai -- one of Vietnam's largest private conglomerates which owns an eponymous team in the domestic V-league and runs a football academy in the Central Highlands.

The exclusive academy is designed to prepare boys to play professionally in football-mad Vietnam, a communist country of about 80 million people, and perhaps elsewhere in Asia or even Europe.

It has a partnership with Arsenal, where some academy graduates could potentially end up on trials.

Arsenal send someone to monitor students' development once a year.

"Initial negotiations have gone very well," the club's chief commercial officer Tom Fox told Arsenal's official website, referring to the possible friendly match.

"We are all looking forward to bringing the team to this region again this year," he added.

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