Manchester United fans shrugged off the surprise absence of several top players yesterday, with thousands rushing to watch a training session and the launch of a new away kit by the English soccer champions. More than 2,000 supporters waited for hours outside the Hong Kong Stadium to see United prepare for today's match against South China. A long queue of excited fans sporting their side's traditional red coiled around the stadium as supporters waited to see their heroes in action, even if it was only practice. Jackson Nai Kan-chung, 14, said he had been waiting for about three hours. 'Of course, it is tiresome, but I have waited for years to see them in person, so I don't mind waiting a little longer,' he said. Another fan, John Lee Chung-hong, said: 'We are a bit let down by the absence of Ryan Giggs and David Beckham. But we support the team, not any individual player.' The training session was only open to those with tickets issued by a credit-card company, but about 500 underprivileged children from several charity organisations also attended. At the Festival Walk shopping centre in Kowloon Tong, some 1,000 supporters waited for more than two hours outside the Royal Sporting House sports shop before five players, including captain Dennis Irwin, emerged to welcome the crowd in the new away kit of dark blue shirts and shorts with white trim. Ricky Tsui, 35, dressed his two sons in traditional red United shirts to watch the unveiling of the new strip. 'I have been supporting the club for nearly 10 years. I admire their teamwork and fighting spirit.' But his sons said they were disappointed that key players had missed the trip.