AUCKLAND – Two first half goals were good enough for ten-man Kuwait to get past Auckland City in a friendly at Kiwitea Street on Tuesday night.
After goals to Bader Almutwa and Fahed Al-Rashidi Kuwait – in New Zealand to prepare for an Asian Cup qualifier against Australia in March – looked set to go up a gear in the second half.
However, a studs-up tackle by Talal Alamer on Chad Coombes five minutes after the break removed that threat and effectively took the sting out of the match, with Kuwait’s remaining 10 men content to conserve energy and protect their lead.
With the crowd at Kiwitea Street boosted to 1800 by local Iraqis, Saudis, Palestinians as well as ex-pat Kuwaitis, and with members of the 1982 All Whites World Cup squad attending the match as guests of honour, the fixture began with almost a festival atmosphere.
“It was good to be able to get 18 or 19 players on the field playing a crowd like this and in this atmosphere,” said Auckland coach Paul Posa.
Greg Uhlmann went close to giving Auckland an early lead but couldn’t catch up with Coombes cross at the back post and Al-Rashidi went even closer in the 16th minute beating Ross Nicholson but not the post.
Three minutes later Almutwa opened the visitors’ account, striding through City’s defences before slotting a low shot inside Nicholson’s right hand post.
Al Rashidi would add Kuwait’s second, rising to meet Hamed Alenezi’s crisp cross with a clinical header that gave Nicholson no chance, while Uhlmann again went close to scoring just before halftime as Ivan Vicelich glanced a Ki-Hyung Lee freekick almost into his path.
Amid wholesale changes to Auckland City’s line-up a returning Grant Young gave the home side impetus in attack, while Team Wellington Andy Barron – drafted in to effective play an All Whites trial in front of New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert – bustled with energy in and advanced midfield role.
Kuwait play Waitakere United at Allen Hill Stadium on Friday night in their final warm-up before departing for Australia.
Auckland City vs. Kuwait – Friendly
Kiwitea Street, Auckland
February 24, 2009
Auckland City 0 Kuwait 2 (Bader Almutwa 19, Fahed Al-Rashidi 31)
Auckland City: 1-Ross Nicholson (GK / 12-John Fletcher 46), 2-Jonathan Raj, 5-Matt Williams (25-Adam McGeorge 46), 6-Ki Hyung Lee (21-Andy Barron), 7-James Pritchett (22-Xavi Roca 46), 8-Chad Coombes, 9-Paul Urlovic (10-Grant Young 46),, 13-Alex Feneridis (11-Maksim Manko 68), 15-Ivan Vicelich (4-Sam Campbell 46), 20-Greg Uhlmann (16-George Suri 46), 24-Milos Nikolic (23-Liam Mulrooney 46).
Coach: Paul Posa
Story and photo courtesy NZF Media
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