DUBAI // AC Milan, one of the giants of European football, are to play Al Ahli in Dubai on January 2, it was announced yesterday.
The match, titled the Emirates Challenge Cup by the sponsoring airline, will be part of the Italian club's winter training camp in the UAE.
Milan are seven-time winners of the Uefa Champions League and have won 17 domestic league championships.
The current Milan team, which includes big-name players such as Swede Zlatan Imbrahimovic, and Brazilians Robinho and Ronaldinho, lead the Serie A standings just ahead of the Christmas break in Italy.
They are scheduled to arrive in Dubai on December 28 and will conduct several training sessions which will be open to the public, organisers said.
"This will be a really good boost for the team, particularly the younger players who are really looking forward to testing themselves against one of the best-known football clubs in Europe," James Yandle, the commercial director at Al Ahli, said.
"We all know the quality of football played in Milan and it will be great for the people who come along every week to see the players they support every week go up against a real world-class team."
Milan will train at Al Ahli's stadium during their stay in Dubai, said Mohammed Matter, a senior vice president at Emirates.
Ahli have a prominent Italian footballer of their own in Fabio Cannavaro, the 37-year-old defender and captain who played for five Italian clubs, including Milan's rival Inter, before joining Ahli on a two-year contract before the current season.
Ahli lie fifth in the Pro League table, nine points behind league-leaders Al Jazira with one game in hand.
Other current Milan players include Kevin-Prince Boateng, Clarence Seedorf and Italian internationals past and present Gennaro Gattuso, Andrea Pirlo and Alessandro Nesta.
Ahmed Khalifa Hammed, the chief executive at Al Ahli, said: "We are so looking forward to welcoming some of the greatest names in football to Dubai."
He added: "The players at Al Ahli are all eager to get out there to take on AC Milan."
Milan will be making their third trip to Dubai for winter training next month.
Their last visit, two years ago, included a match against Hamburg, the German club.
Emirates, the Dubai-based airline, became a shirt sponsor of AC Milan at the start of the current season. The new Fly Emirates shirt sponsor deal, announced in February, is spread over five years.
Organisers said details on how to purchase tickets for the match will be announced next week.