KUALA LUMPUR - Manchester United have cancelled the Jakarta leg of their Asia tour after the hotel where they were due to stay in the Indonesian capital was bombed on Friday. The English champions were scheduled to play against an Indonesia 'All Star' team on Monday on the second leg of their pre-season tour, which also included stops in Malaysia, South Korea and China. The team cancelled the Indonesia leg, however, after bomb blasts ripped through the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta's business district, killing nine people and wounding dozens. "It's a bit of a shock for all of us. We just got news of this when we landed," club manager Alex Ferguson told a news conference at the team's hotel shortly after their arrival in Kuala Lumpur. "There was no other solution as we had to safeguard our players. So it's the correct decision." Witnesses said the bombings at the Marriott and the Ritz-Carlton, where the team were due to stay, were minutes apart and it appeared both had occurred inside the hotels, judging from the way windows were blown out. 'TERRIBLY DISAPPOINTED' Ferguson added that the timing of the bombings was just an unfortunate coincidence and something he had never experienced in over two decades of visiting the region with the club. "We are terribly disappointed because of all the work that goes into bringing Manchester United to Asia," added the Scot, who struggled to be heard at times due to the roars from an adjacent room hosting a meet-and-greet session with the players. "We have a huge fan base in the region and I have been travelling to Asia for 21 years with this club and always admired the support we have in the Far East. "For the first time, we have had to cancel a match and that's very frustrating but maybe we can play the game another time." Club captain Gary Neville said the team had been looking forward to playing in Jakarta but that there was nothing he could do about the decision to cancel. "Obviously the players are disappointed not to be going to Indonesia," said Neville. "However, the decision is out of my control as I'm just here to play football." United will kick off their tour in Kuala Lumpur against a Malaysia XI on Saturday and are scheduled to face South Korea's FC Seoul on July 24 before taking on Chinese outfit Hangzhou Greentown two days later. All 73,000 tickets for United's game in Indonesia sold out three weeks in advance, according to the club website, and it would have been the first time they had visited the Southeast Asian country since 1975. SAFETY OF PARAMOUNT IMPORTANCE The club's chief executive officer, David Gill, did not rule out the possibility of a rescheduled match with an Indonesian side but explained that a number of factors needed to be resolved before any decision could be made. "We could bring the Indonesian team here (in Kuala Lumpur). We'll go through all the different possibilities and evaluate which is the most appropriate," Gill said. "There are lots of things to be done before we sort out the logistics for the rest of the week but we will announce it as soon as we can. "We have to consider the safety of the players and the staff and everyone else in the team because they are of paramount importance." Fellow Premier League clubs Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur confirmed that they would continue as planned with their pre-season trips to the region. "We have liaised with the British authorities in Thailand and Singapore and they have advised us that the security situation there is unchanged so we are going ahead as planned," a Liverpool media officer told Reuters. "But obviously we will continue to monitor the situation." Liverpool play Thailand in Bangkok on July 22 before taking on Singapore four days later, while Tottenham are involved in a four-team tournament in Beijing along with Hull City and West Ham United.
17 July 2009
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