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Preview & Matchday: Liverpool v. Malaysia XI

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Bukit Jalil National Stadium
Kickoff from Bukit Jalil National Stadium in Kuala Lumpur 5:45PM Local/10:45AM GMT/5:45AM EST

Ways to Watch:

Live on ESPNUK in England and FSC in America, as well as on LFCtv live and online for those with a season pass.

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FromSport

Liverpool:

Liverpool are getting set for their second preseason friendly of the Asian tour, and it's being widely reported that Kenny Dalglish has flown back to Liverpool to complete the signing of Stewart Downing. Once you leave the digital paper pages behind most of the rumours suggest he in fact flew back for a long-scheduled family wedding/christening/bar mitzvah and that the timing's just coincidence. Either way, it seems likely that Steve Clarke will be taking the reins on Saturday when Liverpool run out to an expected 80,000 people at a nearly sold-out Bukit Jalil National Stadium.

This after the club managed to draw upwards of 37,500 for their Thursday training session, which as Brian Durand helpfully pointed out on Twitter is more than watched 18 of Everton's 22 home matches (league and cup) last season. It also quite nearly matched the reported 40,000 who turned up for Arsenal's friendly against the Malaysian XI on Wednesday, a contrasting statistic that goes to show the level of global support Liverpool Football Club enjoys.

Whatever the relative popularity of England's top clubs in far flung foreign lands, though, they'll be adding Dalglish's name to Steven Gerrard and Pepe Reina as big names the fans won't be seeing this time around. Stewart Downing also, obviously, won't be making an appearance. Nor will the Reds' newest signing, former Roma backup keeper Alexander Doni, who today completed his long expected move to the club and put pen to paper after passing his medical. By all accounts this means it's the end of the line for Brad Jones as Liverpool's number two after a season in which his first team action amounted to a rainy night's implosion against Northampton in the League Cup and a dull draw against Utrecht when the club did its best to drive a generation of fans across the park to help with Everton's attendance issues.

Though even if some won't be there, a pair who missed out on the match in Guangzhou are expected to see action in Kuala Lumpur. After visa difficulties kept Emiliano Insua in Liverpool on Wednesday, the returned fullback will get a chance to insert himself back into Liverpool's left back conversation as he has joined up with the squad and is expected to see at least 45 minutes of action. Also expected to feature fully this time around is Raul Meiereles, who missed out on the matchday squad in China with a slight knock but will play in Malaysia. And if the thousands of Malaysian fans chanting "Raul must stay" at a player appearance on Friday are anything to go by, he should expect a rather loud reaction on Saturday.

Malaysia:

Liverpool's opponents, the Malaysia XI, aren't quite a national side, though the majority of its players are Malaysian born. Instead it's something of an all-star selection of top performers from the domestic league, a shifting collection of players and coaches that has existed off and on since being formed to play their first friendly in 1974 against Everton. Since then they have been a side cobbled together a handful of times each decade, typically managed by the coach of the Malaysian national side, and usually going down to defeat—of their 16 matches to date, they've registered a single win against Arsenal in 1975 alongside three draws and 12 losses, the most recent being to Arsenal when the English club leveled their record against the Malaysia XI after 26 years.

This will be the first occasion for the not-quite-a-national-team to go up against Liverpool, and on past results it's hard to see the collection of hastily pieced together players from the Liga Super Malaysia offering much resistance. Still, as always, it's a friendly. Just in case something ridiculous happens.