Following his disappointing performance in Hong Kong, Lionel Messi made a brief appearance in Tokyo on Wednesday during Inter Miami’s most recent exhibition match in Asia, but some fans were still left wanting more.
During the last 30 minutes of the game, Messi came off the bench to energise his teammates. In the 80th minute, he had two clear-cut opportunities to win the game, but the Vissel Kobe defense stopped both of them.
Following a scoreless draw in regulation, Vissel prevailed 4-3 in the penalty kick shootout to win the game. But when Messi did not take a penalty, the 28,614 spectators in Tokyo’s 68,000-seat National Stadium jeered.
However, it was nothing compared to the booing that erupted in Hong Kong when Messi was forced to sit out the entire match due to a groin ailment. A few fans asked for reimbursements.
During a rare press conference in Tokyo on Tuesday, the Argentina star apologized for the disastrous PR campaign. Before he began warming up in the second half and eliciting thunderous applause from the crowd, he had expressed uncertainty to the Japanese public about his fitness level.