Soccer fans hoping to see Ronaldo in Shenzhen friendlies
Published: Jan 22, 2024 11:10 PM
Cristiano Ronaldo Photo: CFP

Cristiano Ronaldo Photo: CFP

Chinese soccer fans are eagerly awaiting confirmation about whether world soccer megastar Cristiano Ronaldo will be playing in friendly matches this week in Shenzhen, with his club Al Nassr of Saudi Arabia set to face two Chinese Super League (CSL) clubs. 

Amid a massive crowd at Shenzhen Baoan International Airport, Al Nassr arrived in China on Sunday to begin the preparations for the two matches at the Shenzhen Universiade Stadium. 

Their first match is on January 24 against CSL giants Shanghai Shenhua, and on January 28 against Zhejiang FC, third-placed finishers in the CSL last season.

Initial reports suggested that Ronaldo has a muscle injury which has sidelined him from competing. But Deng Hongfei , the vice chief of the friendlies' main organizer G.H.Y Culture & Media, told the local media on Sunday that Ronaldo will feature in both matches. 

However, rumors also emerged on Chinese social media on Monday that the five-time Ballon d'Or winner will be out of competition for three weeks.

The organizing committee told the Global Times on Monday that there is currently no further news on Ronaldo's condition. 

The Portuguese star's fitness is legendary in the sport, making him one of soccer's outstanding athletes.

Al Nassr's friendlies are part of their preparations for a title bid in their domestic league. Their visit to China also comes at a time when China and Saudi Arabia are strengthening people-to-people exchanges.

Following their arrival at the team's residence, Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Shenzhen, the players engaged in a recovery training session under the supervision of Al Nassr coach Luis Castro, according to the club. 

Bracing against the unusually cold winds in the Southern Chinese city in Guangdong Province, whose winter season is normally mild, Chinese fans waited outside the hotel, waving Al Nassr flags, chanting "Al Nassr" and "Ronaldo" in Chinese to show their support, and hoping to get signatures from Ronaldo and his teammates. The Al Nassr players were also given a welcoming banquet on Monday night. 

Both Al Nassr and Shenhua will have a training session on Tuesday, the organizing committee said. 

The visit marks Ronaldo's eighth trip to China. His last visit was in 2019 when he was representing Serie A giants Juventus in a pre-season friendly with Inter Milan.