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Playing Football In Malaysia Is Really Difficult

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When the sun goes down, it just <strong>feels </strong>like you're going to melt. No such luck in the afternoon.
When the sun goes down, it just feels like you're going to melt. No such luck in the afternoon.

So, Chelsea FC are touring Malaysia. They'll be playing a Malaysian XI in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, and they should win comfortably, pre-season rust or not. Aside from seeing the kids get playing time and making sure nobody is injured, how they play doesn't actually matter. They're participating in these friendlies to get minutes under their collective belt ahead of the season and to boost Chelsea's profile in a region of the world that absolutely loves the Premier League.

I'm not really one to get all excited for pre-season friendlies, but there's one thing Chelsea have been doing this week that, frankly, impresses me to death. They're playing football in Malaysia in July. More specifically they're doing intense drills. In Malaysia. In July:

Training out here has been hard because of the heat and it's hard to get used to, you really feel the difference from home but with Andre Villas-Boas coming in it has been with a lot of ballwork and high intensity, which is hard but always very enjoyable.

-Josh McEachran. Source: ChelseaFC.com.

I don't know how many of you have been to Malaysia. I have family there, so I visit a fair amount. Coming out of the airport is like walking into a vat of soup. The air hangs, parts around you, sinks into your lungs in not-quite enough quantities. These days, when I visit, I immediately retreat to somewhere with air conditioning and only re-emerge to eat. If you don't believe me about the weather... well, as of this writing, here're the current conditions in the capital:

Location: Kuala Lumpur / Subang
Temperature: 90 °F
Comfort Level: 103 °F
Dew point: 77 °F
Barometer: 29.80 "Hg
Humidity: 67%*


*That's 79% relative humidity, by the way, for a perceived temperature of 40°C.

Which is not very nice. How anyone can actually play in this without growing up there is beyond me - and I should know, because I've tried. In younger, foolish days, I was more than happy to show off my clearly superior, Gianfranco-Zola-inspired footballing skills to my little cousins. When they invited to play football in some random Kuala Lumpur park at 2:00PM one August afternoon, I jumped at the chance, and began thoroughly trouncing them. For five minutes. At which point I started to notice something was wrong.

Then my lungs shuddered, exploded and I'm pretty sure I actually died (this is a very strange heaven). Certainly, I'm not really sure how I ended up getting home or anything like that. Heat stroke had gone for broke and become full-on heat fondle, and I was, in layman's terms, an absolute mess. After five minutes of kicking a ball in a park.

Chelsea are doing proper training in an environment not just difficult but actively hostile to play in. The fact that John Terry hasn't collapsed in on himself is a testament to just how fit these guys actually are. I know hardly any of you come here to read my stupid anecdotes, but believe me when I say that having been in their shoes on this, the fact that Josh McEachran is only complaining that it's a little hot is absolutely mind-blowing. I don't know how they do it, and that goes for every player who's toured through South-East Asia in the preseason, not just Chelsea ones. Professional footballers are absolutely amazing.