Days after leaving fans in Hong Kong utterly disappointed and angry, Lionel Messi appeared in a press conference in Tokyo to explain his absence from the friendly. 38,323 fans were present at the stadium and had spent upwards of 1,000 Hong Kong dollars for tickets.
Messi was left on the bench and failed to make a substitute appearance against Hong Kong XI. Meanwhile, even Luis Suarez was benched and didn’t play at all. Throughout the second-half, fans chanted “We want Messi” and when it was confirmed that he would not be making an appearance, they began to shout for refunds. Then at the final whistle when Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham tried to thank the spectators for their support, fans jeered and booed at him, with thumbs-down gestures.
“The truth is that I feel very good compared to a few days ago. 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,” he said, ahead of Inter Miami’s match vs Vissel Kobe.
Explaining his Hong Kong absence, he said, “The truth is that it was bad luck that I couldn’t (play) on the day of the Hong Kong match.”
He revealed that “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. 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,” he added.
Despite his absence, Inter Miami ran riot and sealed a 4-1 victory, courtesy of goals from Robert Taylor, Lawson Sunderland, Leonardo Campana and Ryan Sailor. Meanwhile, Messi made a 30-minute appearance in the friendly in Tokyo, but failed to prevent a 3-4 penalty shootout defeat after the game ended in a 0-0 draw.