A tap in by Adam Dickinson just before the break and a piece of individual brilliance by Chad Coombes in the second half proved to be the difference on Wednesday evening as Paul Posa’s side silenced the home crowd at Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium.
Auckland City now progress to the quarter-finals where they will face Mexico’s Atlante on Saturday. They will also now pick up a minimum of $1 million USD in prize money.
Posa says the team went into the game with an attacking mindset, eager to set the record straight after failing to score a goal in their only other appearance at the competition in 2006.
“We played out of skins tonight, we created the chances and we put them away,” said Posa. “Chad’s goal was outstanding but overall it was a team effort and I’m incredibly proud of the players.”
“We’ve worked hard as a club to get preparations right for this tournament and it’s great to see that pay off. I think the win was well deserved.”
Auckland City had the best opening chance of the game in the 18th minute when left back Ian Hogg wrangled into the box and unselfishly laid the ball off for Dickinson whose low shot from nine yards out was blocked by Yosif Abdalla.
Despite the early chance, Auckland spent much of the first half defending as Al Ahli enjoyed plenty of possession and looked dangerous going forward through Brazilian striker Bare. The UAE club champions almost had the breakthrough in the 26th minute when Hassan’s volley flashed just wide of Jacob Spoonley’s left-hand upright.
It looked as if the first half would be a stalemate but just before the break Auckland City struck a decisive blow. Jason Hayne, who was superb throughout, went on a surging run down the right and sent a perfect ball across to Dickinson at the far post who calmly cushioned the ball into the back of the net. Al Ahli almost grabbed an instant equalizer when Khamis latched onto a rebound but the midfielder, who had an open goal in front of him, somehow sliced the ball over the bar.
The Kiwis doubled their lead on 67 minutes when Chad Coombes cut inside his marker and blasted a left-foot shot into the roof of the net from 30 yards. The attacking-minded Coombes had a strong game at right back replacing regular starter James Pritchett who was ruled out at the last minute due to a hamstring strain.
Al Ahli tried to force their way back into the game but Auckland’s defense, led by All White Ivan Vicelich, held strong. Ian Hogg played superbly down the left while Matt Williams, Adam McGeorge and Ki-Hyung Lee battled well in midfield.
The statistics may not reflect the score line with Auckland City only claiming 41 per cent of possession and hitting 16 shots to Al Ahli’s 24, but that won’t matter to Paul Posa and his amateur squad as they look forward to facing the CONCACAF champions Atlante this weekend.
Al Ahli FC: 0
Auckland City FC: 2 (Adam DICKINSON 45’, Chad COOMBES 67’)
Wednesday 9 December 2009
Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Al Ahli FC: 1. Yosif ABDALLA [GK], 3. Saad SUROUR, 6. Kahled MOHAMMED (31. Waleed AHMED 84’), 8. Ali ABBAS, 9. BARE, 12. Hosny ABD RABO, 14. Bader YAQOOT, 16. Hassan ALI (23. Mehrzad MADANCHI 54’), 20. Yousif JABER, 26. Salem KHAMIS [C], 29. Ali HUSSAIN (Mohamed RASHID 46’)
Substitutes not used: 5. Mohammad QASSIM, 7. Onaid KHALEIFA, 10. Ahmed KHALIL, 15. Ismail AL HAMMADI, 21. Mohammed FAWZI, 25. Abdulla AHMAD, 33. Saif YOUSUF [GK], 35. Abdulla ABDULRAHMAN, 50. ALSUWADI [GK]
Coach: Mahdi REDHA
Yellow cards: Ali HUSSAIN 15’, Salem KHAMIS 46’
Red cards: Nil
Auckland City FC: 1. Jacob SPOONLEY [GK], 3. Ian HOGG, 5. Matt WILLIAMS, 6. Ki-Hyung LEE, 8. Chad COOMBES, 11. Daniel KOPRIVCIC (14. Keryn JORDAN 71’), 15. Ivan VICELICH, 16. Jason HAYNE (13. Alex FENERIDIS 85’), 17. Adam McGEORGE, 20. Greg UHLMANN, 22. Adam DICKINSON
Substitutes not used: 4. Sam CAMPBELL, 7. James PRITCHETT, 9. Paul URLOVIC, 10. Grant YOUNG, 12. Simon EADDY [GK], 18. Paul GOTHARD [GK], 21. Riki VAN STEEDEN, 25. Milos NIKOLIC, 26. Daniel MORGAN
Coach: Paul POSA
Yellow cards: Adam McGEORGE 33’, Chad COOMBES 45’
Red cards: Nil
Photo courtesy FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images