A burning ambition

OF the three English Premiership side in the FAPL Asia Cup, Birmingham City are the most modest. Having finished 13th in the English Premier League, well behind the third and fourth placing of Newcastle and Chelsea, they may not be the team everyone is waiting for with bated breath. 

But don't write them off. Their boss Steve Bruce is already relishing the new season's Premiership campaign. And with new £5.5 million signing David Dunn in the bag, the former Manchester United skipper will be hoping to mount a better challenge in the EPL – and in Kuala Lumpur.  

Of course, with the likes of Matthew Upson, who made his England debut in May against South Africa, and former French international and 1998 World Cup winner Christophe Duggary around, they can always be a handful for any team. 

Bruce has already won plaudits for his management of the Blues – particularly for his additions to the squad during January's transfer window, at a time when Birmingham looked to be heading for a relegation battle. 

The hot humid conditions in Kuala Lumpur will take some adjusting to, but with the help of Blues' new full-time sports scientist they don't anticipate any major problems for the FA Premier League (FAPL) Asia Cup tournament. 

The players are not going to be used to the hot and humid conditions but the club now has a full time sports scientist in John Brierley, a former England Commonwealth Games manager and a lecturer at Brunel University. He will provide the expertise and advise with regards to nutrition, fitness and hydration. 

Birmingham City's chairman David Gold is hopeful that competing in the FAPL Asia Cup tournament would boost the club's profile in the Far East. 

Their participation is already an immediate boost to the Blues' coffers. It is worth £700,000 (RM4.34 million). But chairman Gold is hoping that, in the long term, the event will have a positive knock-on effect for the club.  

“'I think we might surprise a few people even though we will be considered as outsiders. Newcastle and Chelsea will be the favourites to get to the final. But I think that we can pull off a shock,'' Gold said. 

“This is a very exciting time to be going out to a new market where they take football very seriously and they could take Birmingham to their hearts. I believe that it will raise the profile of the club to a higher level and will help us establish ourselves as a Premiership club.” 

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