Highlights

  • Messi said at a press conference in Tokyo that he was feeling better
  • Fans in Hong Kong booed the club and screamed for refunds on Sunday

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Lionel Messi feeling better, but still unsure of playing as Inter Miami arrive in Japan

Inter Miami arrived in Tokyo on Monday after leaving a trail of disappointment and anger in Hong Kong when Messi failed to play due to injury in Miami's 4-1 victory over a local XI on Sunday.

Lionel Messi feeling better, but still unsure of playing as Inter Miami arrive in Japan

Lionel Messi said on Tuesday that he was feeling better, but was still unsure of playing on Wednesday when Inter Miami wrap their preseason tour of Asia with a friendly against Japanese J.League champions Vissel Kobe.

The club arrived in Tokyo on Monday after leaving a trail of disappointment and anger in Hong Kong when Messi failed to play due to injury in Miami's 4-1 victory over a local XI on Sunday.

But Messi said at a press conference in Tokyo on Tuesday that he was feeling better and that a decision to play in a friendly against Vissel Kobe on Wednesday will be made after the club's training session later in the day.

Fans in Hong Kong booed the club and screamed for refunds on Sunday while the Hong Kong government, which had helped back the visit financially, demanded answers from the organisers.

Former Barcelona striker Luis Suarez also did not play in the game.

Organisers said Monday they had only been informed during halftime that Lionel Messi would not be playing and that they would withdraw an application for funding from the city government for staging the match.

The fans’ reaction was a setback for Hong Kong officials who sought to boost the city’s image as a hub for mega events amid a slow economic recovery and Beijing’s crackdown on dissidents.

Messi, who has rarely spoken to the media in an open setting since moving in July to Inter Miami, showed up Tuesday at a news conference in a five-star Tokyo hotel. He sat alone on a stool on stage, wore a pink warm-up jacket, and showed a bit of humility.

He was surely under pressure from local Japanese sponsors, including Vissel Kobe where his former Barcelona teammate Andres Iniesta became a Japanese crowd favorite before leaving last year.

“The truth is that I feel very good compared to a few days ago,” Messi said, speaking in Spanish.

"And depending on how that (training) goes. And if I'm honest, I still don't know if I will be able to or not. But I feel much better and I really want to be able to do it.” Messi tried to explain to Hong Kong fans, saying it was impossible for him to play with a groin injury. Some suggested he could have simply trotted around for a few minutes, which might have satisfied fans in a game that is largely meaningless except for its promotional value.

“The truth is that it was bad luck that I couldn't (play) on the day of the Hong Kong match," Messi said, adding that the “discomfort continued and it was very difficult for me to play.”

“Unfortunately, in football, things can happen in any game, that we may have an injury,” he added. “It's a shame because I always want to participate, I want to be there, and even more so when it comes to these games when we travel so far and people are so excited to see our matches."

Inter Miami's global tour has been disappointing as the club tries to build a brand, using veteran players like Messi and Suarez. Through five games from El Salvador, to Dallas, to Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong, Inter Miami has won only once and has been outscored 12-7.


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