Tuesday, July 17, 2007

ManU to play Urawa Reds depleted by Asian Cup

English Premier League club Manchester United arrived in Tokyo, Japan, on Monday for the first leg of its Asian tour. It will will meet a depleted Urawa Reds team tonight which has lost key players to the Japan national side currently competing in the AFC Asian Cup in Vietnam. Defenders Yuki Abe and Keisuke Tsuboi are among those on international duty, as is influential midfield linchpin Keita Suzuki. Man United will travel to South Korea after the Reds match to play FC Seoul on Friday, before taking on Shenzhen FC in Macau on 23 July and Guangzhou in Guangdong on 27 July.

Manager Sir Alex Ferguson paid tribute to the strides Japanese football has made since the inception of the J. League. "I watch Japanese football quite a lot on TV and I can see the quality," he said. "When I first came here in 1989 football was just taking off in Japan. Now we can see the progress. We played Urawa Reds two years ago in a fantastic stadium with a great pitch, and it just shows how much progress has been made in those years. The stimulus from the World Cup in 2002 has given a fresh impetus to Japan ... There is good evidence that the quality of players in Japan has improved," he told Andrew McKirdy in The Japan Times.

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