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Fans flock to greet Real players

August 07, 2003 10:31 IST

Thousands of Hong Kong soccer fans flocked to catch a glimpse of Real Madrid players arriving in the territory on Wednesday for a game later this week.

England captain David Beckham has already broadened the appeal of Real Madrid in Asia, where Beckham-mania has exploded over the past year, but other Real players were also popular.

Midfielder Guti was not among the arrivals, however, after missing the flight from Tokyo because he had mislaid his passport.

"Beckham, you're the best," said a placard sporting the midfielder's picture.

"I like Beckham. He's handsome," said 14-year-old student Carol Liu, who was among about two thousand screaming fans who thronged the airport to welcome the star-studded team. Some of them had been waiting since Tuesday.

"Ronaldo is a funny, handsome and brilliant player. He's good in every sense," said another teenage girl.

Later on Wednesday, about a thousand fans swarmed to the city's main soccer stadium to watch a scheduled training session, which was eventually cancelled as the players were too tired.

Instead, they were allowed to attend a late news conference, featuring defenders Roberto Carlos and Michel Salgado and midfielder Luis Figo, on the pitch. Beckham did not turn up but this did not bother some of the fans as they shouted the names of Figo and Carlos.

"I hope you'll have a chance to watch an exciting match on August 8," Portugal midfielder Figo said before the three players hurled flowers at cheering fans on the spectators' stand.

Last week, thousands of fans in Hong Kong queued for days in sweltering heat to buy tickets for Friday's match, the third leg of Real's four-match pre-season tour of the Far East.

Real beat China Dragon Team 4-0 on Saturday, followed by a 3-0 win over FC Tokyo, which included a goal by Beckham, on Tuesday.

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