SEOUL - Manchester United never considered cutting their Asia tour short in the wake of the hotel bombings in Jakarta and the team remains committed to its "exceptional" fanbase in the region, coach Alex Ferguson said on Thursday. The English champions had to skip the Indonesia leg of their tour after deadly suicide bomb attacks on the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels killed nine people and injured 53. The United team had been due to stay at the Ritz-Carlton two days later. "Never there was at any time a suggestion for us to go back home," Ferguson told a news conference. "We did not have any players wanting to go back home. "We're committed to be here for the duration and that's what we came here to do." Manchester United will play South Korea's FC Seoul on Friday before winding up their tour in Hangzhou, China. The team scored two victories against Malaysian opposition in Kuala Lumpur earlier in the week to kick off the tour. The 67-year-old Scot enthused about the support his team received in Asia and expressed disappointment United's legions of fans in Indonesia were denied the chance to see them play. "It is very unfortunate and devastating with what happened in Indonesia, and more so because we prepared for it and there was a sellout of tickets," he added. "But there was no way we could go there under the circumstances." DEVELOPMENT Ferguson said the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo was the biggest difference to his team since United's 4-0 win over the same opponents in Seoul two years ago. He also reserved special praise for his South Korean player Park Ji-sung, who missed the fixture last time due to injury. "When we were scouting I went to see him and I saw a player with great understanding of space," said Ferguson, who signed the shaggy-haired midfielder from Guus Hiddink's PSV Eindhoven in 2005. "We felt at the time that we needed a player who could penetrate really well and that's why we brought him here to Man United." Park went on to become the first Asian to play in the Champions League final when United were beaten by Barcelona in May, but had to overcome the massive disappointment of being dropped by Ferguson a year earlier for the glittering European final against Chelsea. "Here he's developed technical and tactical ability and become an important player for us. These are the reasons why I think he's fantastic with us." David Gill, the club's chief executive officer, confirmed United were looking to extend Park's contract but did not provide further details.
23 July 2009
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