Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 26th 2016 Contents A42
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, July 26, 2016
Manchester United and Manchester
City s eagerly-anticipated friendly in China
was called off due to an unplayable and
unsafe pitch at the Bird s Nest.
Monday s International Champions Cup
friendly in Beijing was to be the first time
the Manchester derby had taken place on
foreign soil, with the renewal of hostilities
between Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola
whetting the appetite further.
However, heavy rain and storms in the
build-up left the Bird s Nest playing surface
in a terrible state, with both managers raising
concerns about it on the eve of the match.
International Champions Cup sources
attempted to allay such worries but less
than five hours before kick-off confirmation
arrived the derby had been cancelled due
to the state of the pitch.
"The cancellation was made in the inter-
est of player safety and comes following
extreme weather events in Beijing over a
multiple day period, that have left the play-
ing surface in a condition deemed to be
unfit for play," a joint statement from
Relevent Sports, LeSports, Beijing Football
Association and both Manchester clubs
"The conditions experienced in Beijing
on July 19 and July 20 were reported as
being some of the most extreme weather
conditions the capital of China has expe-
rience in recent history. Regular rain occurred
also on July 21 and July 22.
"The decision was made collectively by
tournament organizers, participating clubs,
China Football Association, Beijing Football
Association and the management of the
The joint statement confirmed the match
will not be re-scheduled and tournament
spokesperson Patrick Murphy pledged "an
appropriate refund policy will be put in
place by our local partners".
Lei Zhenjian, chief executive of co-hosts
LeSports, said they tried their "absolute
best to save the event", meaning the first
- and only - match of City s pre-season
trip to China will come in Shenzhen against
Borussia Dortmund on Thursday.
"The players have been working hard in
training to prepare for an exciting derby,"
City chief executive Ferran Soriano said.
"We know how much everyone was look-
ing forward to the game, but we understand
that this bad weather is beyond anyone s
control, and that the rain has made it totally
unsafe to play on this pitch.
"It has been a pleasure and an honour
to experience such a warm welcome from
the people and supporters here in Beijing,
and we remain committed to playing here
in the future."
While City carry onto Shenzhen, it is a
suitably shambolic end to a chaotic pre-
season trip for United.
Following the friendly against Dortmund
during a short and relatively straightforward
stay in Shanghai, flight problems en route
to Beijing were compounded by organisa-
tional issues upon arrival.
The heat and humidity has made it dif-
ficult for Mourinho s squad to work effec-
tively, yet executive vice-chairman Ed
Woodward, who arrived in Beijing on the
eve of the match, suggests United will soon
return to the Chinese capital.
"It s extremely disappointing not to be
able to play the game in this amazing sta-
dium but the recent torrential rain would
have caused problems anywhere in the world
and has left the pitch unplayable," he said.
"We know our fans in China will, like
the players and staff, be saddened by the
cancellation of the match but I am sure
they appreciate that player safety has to be
the top priority.
"I am sure we will return to the Bird s
Nest in the future to give them the chance
to see the team in action."
Chelsea are interested in signing Napoli
central defender Kalidou Koulibaly this
summer, according to the player s agent.
New Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte
is currently shaping his squad ahead of
his first season at the club and has already
secured the signings of Michy Batshuayi
and N Golo Kante.
Conte is yet to strengthen his defensive
options since arriving at Stamford Bridge
in July, but could be tempted to pursue a
deal for Koulibaly after the Senegal inter-
national s agent, Bruno Satin, made it clear
that his client has no intention of signing
a new contract at Napoli.
"Let s be clear, I went to meet the pres-
ident at Dimaro last Saturday. We summed
up the situation after these tense few
weeks," Satin told Radio CRC.
"That I know of, Koulibaly s not about
to renew [his contract] and the future
doesn t look rosy. The player s desire is to
leave and the signs we re receiving from
Napoli don t exactly pressure him other-
"We ve decided to leave for economic
reasons. After what happened to Higuain,
though, Kalidou will not be leaving for
Juventus or another competitor.
"Chelsea still want him and there s time
to close the deal."
Koulibaly, who joined Napoli from Genk
in 2014, is currently contracted at the Sta-
dio San Paolo until the summer of 2019.
FA decides against friendly
England have shelved plans to hold a Wembley
friendly on September 1, with new manager Sam
Allardyce taking charge for the first time three
days later in a World Cup qualifier in Slovakia.
The Football Association had held advanced
discussions with possible opponents, with Croatia
and the Czech Republic both mooted, and were
ready at one stage to sign off on the match before
appointing Roy Hodgson s successor.
But Allardyce, who was appointed on Friday
and held a first press conference on Monday, has
seemingly had some early influence on the sched-
ule.Rather than preparing for a welcome match at
the national stadium, he will conduct additional
training sessions with his squad at St George s
Park with all focus on the Group F match in Trna-
va. That means his first game at Wembley will
be against Malta on October 8, part of a double
header that also sees England travel to Slovenia
three days later.
Liverpool fined by UEFA
Liverpool have been fined 16,000 euros
(£13,408) by UEFA following crowd trouble
before and during the Europa League final against
Sevilla in Basel in May.
UEFA s Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body
announced the sanction which related specifically
to crowd disturbances, the setting off of fireworks,
and an illicit banner.
Sevilla, who won the match 3-1, were fined
17,000 euros (£14,242) for their part in the dis-
turbances, which involved crowd disturbances
and the throwing of objects.
A small numbers of supporters clashed behind
one of the goals shortly before kick-off, with
many fans blaming poor segregation for the prob-
There was also criticism of UEFA s choice of
the St Jakob-Park stadium, which with its capacity
of just 35,000 was the smallest chosen to host
a major European final.
Injury blow for Cresswell
West Ham defender Aaron Cresswell will miss
the start of the season after being ruled out for
up to four months with a knee injury.
The 26-year-old left-back, one of the Ham-
mers most consistent performers last term, suf-
fered ligament damage in their pre-season friendly
win over Karlsruher in Austria on Saturday.
Cresswell will see a specialist in London next
week to determine whether or not he requires
West Ham s medical chief Stijn Vandenbroucke
told the club website: "Whatever course of action
we decide to take, Aaron faces a period of rest,
followed by treatment and rehabilitation and he
will be out for a period of between three and four
The news comes as a blow to manager Slaven
Bilic, who is short of cover at left-back, as well
as to the player himself as he was touted for a
place in Sam Allardyce s first England squad in
September. Allardyce was the man who signed
Cresswell for West Ham two years ago and remains
The Hammers are also waiting to assess a knee
injury suffered by midfielder Manuel Lanzini, who
was due to play for Argentina at the Olympics.
"We are in close contact with Manuel and the
AFA (Argentine Football Association), who have
started a late-release replacement procedure with
the IOC," added Vandenbroucke.
"Until he has been assessed by the IOC, he
cannot be replaced, but after this process has
been completed we want him to return to England
to be assessed by our own medical staff as soon
in China called off
Chelsea wants Koulibaly
The Bird's Nest
...unfit for play.
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