Cologne have landed in China for an end-of-season trip during which the fifth-best team in Germany will play a friendly against Chinese Super League side Liaoning FC.
The Billy Goats wrapped up a brilliant Bundesliga campaign with a 2-0 win over Mainz last weekend that saw them secure their best finish since the 1991/1992 season.
Peter Stöger’s side climbed into the top five on the final day and will now be in the main draw of a European competition for the first time in 25 years after securing a place in the group stage of next season’s UEFA Europa League.
The squad will have had plenty of time to reflect on their achievement during the long journey to Liaoning Province in north-east China, where they will spend three days on their first ever visit to the country.
Cologne arrived at Shenyang Airport on Monday and will have an open training session at the Olympic Stadium on Tuesday. They then take on Liaoning FC on Wednesday at 19.30 local time (13:30CEST).
The trip comes after the two clubs signed a partnership agreement last November, which will see Cologne help the Chinese outfit in the education of coaches and young players. The German Sports University Cologne is also co-operating with the project.
“We are very happy to be the first Bundesliga club to sign an exclusive partnership agreement with Liaoning FC,” Cologne Managing Director Alexander Wehrle said.
“Our focus is on the province of Liaoning and the football fans in the region, instead of competing with a major metropolis. The region has a population of over 40 million people, so even if we can only get one per cent to gain an interest in 1. FC Köln, I would consider it a big success.”