Tue, Jul 17, 2007 - Page 20 News List

Manchester Utd arrive in Tokyo at start of Asian tour

CAPTAIN OUT The Red Devils face the Red Diamonds in the first match of their pre-season trip in Saitama today, minus skipper Gary Neville

AFP , TOKYO

Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo plays with the ball prior to the team's official training session in Tokyo, Japan, yesterday.

PHOTO: AFP

Manchester United touched down in Tokyo on the first stage of their Asian tour yesterday with defender Rio Ferdinand admitting the excitement within the camp about the club's closed-season spending spree.

The Premiership champions, who face Urawa Red Diamonds in Saitama today before further games in Seoul, Macau and Guangzhou, arrived at Narita Airport 24 hours after Tokyo narrowly escaped the worst effects of Typhoon Man-Yi.

With a fanatical fanbase in the region, United are becoming regular visitors with this their third pre-season tour of Asia since the turn of the millennium.

splashing out

Manager Sir Alex Ferguson has splashed out millions on new signings since the end of last season handing the likes of Owen Hargreaves, Nani and Anderson the chance to challenge the likes of England striker Wayne Rooney and Portuguese midfielder Christiano Ronaldo in the battle for the affections of their hordes of passionate Asian supporters.

Argentinian striker Carlos Tevez is also expected to join from West Ham before the new season begins next month, with Ferguson having expressed his excitement at the prospect of having him in the squad.

Ferdinand admits that the rest of the team cannot wait to see the new boys in action.

"We're looking forward to seeing them play. All the players here are the same, we want to see them play," he said. "Obviously we know more about Owen Hargreaves than Nani and Anderson. I've not really seen either of them play."

keen

"Anderson hasn't joined up with us yet, but when he does, as with Nani, we'll be keen to see what he can do,"he said.

United left England on Sunday without injured captain Gary Neville, who continues to search for full fitness following the ankle ligament injury that forced him out of the final two months of last season.

Ryan Giggs has been given the armband.

Louis Saha and Ole-Gunnar Solskjaer also miss the trip through injury, while Giuseppe Rossi, Kieran Richardson and Gerard Pique, transfer targets for other clubs, have also been left behind at Old Trafford.

Anderson and Gabriel Heinze are on an extended break after performing in the Copa America which ended on Sunday.

Striker Alan Smith has been selected, however, and his arrival in Asia plays down speculation that the former Leeds United star will be leaving the club before the start of the new campaign.

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