Premier League side Arsenal will play Al Nasr in Dubai later this month to mark the official opening of the refurbished Al Maktoum Stadium.
The London club, currently fourth in the English top flight, have agreed to participate in the friendly on March 26 as part of their warm-weather training camp in the emirate.
Arsenal will travel to the UAE next week, given the break in commitments following this Thursday’s second leg of their Europa League last-16 tie against Rennes. Unai Emery’s side, 3-1 down from the first encounter last week in France, were scheduled to face Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League at the weekend, but the match has been postponed because of Wolves’ appearance in the FA Cup quarter-finals.
“It will be great to get some warm weather training and break up the usual routine as we enter the final stage of the season,” Emery said. “The facilities in Dubai are fantastic and it will be an honour to be part of the formal opening ceremony for the new stadium."
Originally opened in 1981, Al Maktoum Stadium underwent a significant upgrade ahead of the Asian Cup earlier this year, when its capacity was increased to 15,000. The venue played host to six matches, including the quarter-final between Japan and Vietnam. Meanwhile, the much-anticipated Group D encounter between Iran and Iraq attracted a capacity crowd.
Nasr vice-chairman Ahmed Khoory said: “We are delighted to have such world-class club here in Dubai, and the friendly match promises to be an unforgettable opening event for Al Maktoum Stadium.
“The match will be engraved in our history of as one of the most important steps in our journey that goes as far back as 73 years. Al Nasr has also hosted a number of elite clubs from different countries, including Arsenal in 1976, and it’s become a tradition for the club to host these friendly matches.
“The match will be a superb chance for our players to hone their skills further, and introduce Al Maktoum Stadium to the world.”
Currently sitting 11th in the Arabian Gulf League after 17 rounds, Nasr are three-time UAE champions, although they have not captured the top-flight title since the 1985/86 season. At present, they are managed by Spaniard Benat San Jose, with former Sevilla, Manchester City and Spain striker Alvaro Negredo their captain.
Tickets for the match start at Dh100 and will be available for purchase at Al Nasr Club as well as online at dubai.platinumlist.net.