Malaysia will defy the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and host Manchester United in July, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi insisted on Friday.

The AFC had angered Malaysians earlier this week by ruling out a United friendly tour match in Malaysia because it would clash with its flagship tournament, the July 7-29 Asian Cup. Banking on their huge fan base in Asia, United had been due to play in Kuala Lumpur against a Malaysian select team on July 27, two days before the Asian Cup final in Jakarta.

The match had looked to be off when the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) bowed to AFC pressure and said United were no longer welcome. 

However, the Malaysian Prime Minister joined in the fray on Friday, telling reporters the game would go ahead as scheduled.

“We want them to visit Malaysia because this year is Visit Malaysia Year… if Manchester United play in Kuala Lumpur, there will be a lot of Manchester United fans around this region, including from Singapore and Thailand, coming here.” 

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