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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Manchester derby in China cancelled

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The hotly-anticipated reunion between Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola has been delayed after Monday’s International Champions Cup game between Manchester United and City was cancelled.

United boss Mourinho and new City manager Guardiola, who were fierce rivals while coaching Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively, were due to face off for the first time in almost three years when the Manchester clubs met in a friendly fixture at Beijing’s Bird’s Nest Stadium.

But heavy rain in the Chinese capital has rendered the pitch unplayable, with United revealing on Twitter that “tournament organisers and participating clubs have decided to cancel” the encounter

The match – a first overseas derby between the Manchester giants – would have given United fans another chance to see how their team are shaping up ahead of the new Premier League season.

Mourinho’s men suffered a 4-1 defeat to Borussia Dortmund in Shanghai while City are yet to make their first appearance at the summer tournament. Their game against Dortmund is scheduled for Thursday, July 28.

Both clubs apologised for the inconvenience and disappointment created by the decision, with some fans having travelled to China especially, in statements published on City’s official website.

City chief executive Ferran Soriano said: “We are very disappointed not to be able to play for our supporters here in Beijing.

“The players have been working hard in training to prepare for an exciting derby.

“We know how much everyone was looking 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.”

United executive vice chairman Ed Woodward said: “It’s extremely disappointing not to be able to play the game in this amazing stadium but the recent torrential rain would have caused problems anywhere in the world and has left the pitch unplayable.

“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 the 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.”

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