Moyes’ United reign begins with loss

AFP-JIJI

David Moyes’ reign at Manchester United began with an embarrassing upset as the Premier League champions slumped to a 1-0 defeat against Thailand’s Singha All-Star XI in Bangkok on Saturday.

The new manager sat grim-faced on the bench as the highly paid visitors, who have been given a heroes’ welcome in Thailand, failed to recover after falling behind early in the second half.

United was missing Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Nani and captain Nemanja Vidic among others, but the English side can have few complaints after making a sluggish start and allowing the All-Stars repeated chances.

The result, albeit in a friendly and with an inexperienced team, does nothing to ease the task of Moyes as he seeks to follow Alex Ferguson’s 27-year, 38-trophy stint at the world’s most famous club.

But the Scotsman, who has also had to deal with repeated speculation about the future of the unsettled Rooney in his first weeks in charge, played down the insipid performance.

“I hope not,” said Moyes, when asked if the result was a bad omen. “If I was going to lose any games I’m happy to lose these ones, that’s for sure.”

He added: “It wasn’t a brilliant result but I was more pleased with the way the players kept going. We gave a lot of young players an opportunity. I’m disappointed we didn’t get something out of the game. What we did get out of it was certainly a real good fitness workout — anyone watching that will tell you it was very hot.”

Moyes will hope for better from his players on the rest of the trip to Australia, Japan, Hong Kong and Sweden, before they begin their Premier League title defence on Aug. 17.

But he can at least console himself that Ferguson’s time in charge also started inauspiciously, with a 2-0 defeat at Oxford United in 1986.

Moye’s opposite number, All-Stars coach Piyapong Pue-On, admitted he was “quite surprised at beating the No. 1 team in the world”.

“I’m going to have a big laugh in the dressing room,” he said.

Honda scores twice

ROSTOV-ON-DON
Kyodo

Japan midfielder Keisuke Honda fired a brace to power CSKA Moscow to a 3-0 win over Zenit St. Petersburg in the Russian Super Cup on Saturday.

Honda, who has reportedly agreed to join AC Milan in January, opened the scoring with a superb strike on 15 minutes, cutting in from the right wing to bury a shot into the corner from just outside the area.

Russian international Sergei Ignashevic added a second before Honda slotted home with his left foot to wrap up victory in the 83rd minute. Honda was substituted with five minutes left.