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AFC ask Man Utd to reschedule Malaysia match

KUALA LUMPUR, May 23 (Reuters) - Asia's football chief Mohamed Bin Hammam has asked Manchester United officials to reschedule the club's July 27 match against a Malaysian XI to avoid a clash with the Asian Cup.

Hammam met United chief executive David Gill and Premier League chairman David Richards in the Malaysian capital on Wednesday in a bid to resolve a tense situation which could result in legal action being taken against the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM).

'I really appreciate the gesture that David Gill and Sir Dave Richards have displayed by coming here to AFC House to meet face to face to discuss this issue,' Hammam said in a statement.

'We have presented our case to Manchester United and fully explained our position. At the end of the day, we have not left any stone unturned to seek a solution amicably and we very much hope that we can all seek a compromise to protect the interests of the AFC Asian Cup 2007 and the development of Asian football.

'We have made the request and we shall await the response.'

The FAM has signed a contract with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) agreeing not to promote any soccer event during the Asian Cup, which runs from July 7-29 and is co-hosted by Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.

However, last week, the FAM said it would go ahead with the match, two days before the Asian Cup final in Jakarta, because it was the wish of the country's Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

The Malaysian government is using the match as part of the nation's celebrations for the 50th year of independence from Britain.

'I have verbally informed the Manchester United club that they can come to Malaysia and we will make arrangements with the team to facilitate their visit to Malaysia,' Tourism Minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor was quoted as saying by Malaysian news agency Bernama.

A Manchester United spokeswoman said on Wednesday: 'We have received the request regarding the date of the match and will be responding directly to the AFC.'