No fairy­tale for Auck­land City

The Press - - Sport - AN­DREW VOERMAN

This could have been an­other mo­ment of glory for Auck­land City at the Fifa Club World Cup, to join the ones from 2014 and 2009.

But de­spite their dom­i­nance through­out, they lost 1-0 to Al Jazira, the reign­ing United Arab Emi­rates cham­pi­ons, and their cam­paign has fin­ished at the play­off stage for the third year in a row.

City have played at the Club World Cup nine times, but they have never been on top in a match like they were on Thurs­day [NZ time] at Hazza Bin Zayed Sta­dium in Al Ain in the UAE.

They out­shot their op­po­nents 17 to five. They had seven shots on tar­get to two. They had 59 per cent of pos­ses­sion to Al Jazira’s 41. The key sta­tis­tics have never been in their favour like that at this tour­na­ment.

But they are now headed home and back to the New Zealand na­tional league, and they will surely won­der what might have been.

The goal that Al Jazira scored was a fine one, there is no doubt about that. In the 38th minute, their pro­lific striker, Ali Mabkhout, ran at the City de­fence for the first time all night, but de­fender An­gel Ber­langa was there to pick his pocket. Un­for­tu­nately for Ber­langa, the ball rolled into space, and Ro­mar­inho ran in and smashed it to­wards goal from 25m out, where it beat keeper Enaut Zu­bikarai to the left.

Zu­bikarai only had one other save to make all night, and that was very late in the game, when Mabkhout took a shot from out­side the box that he dealt with eas­ily.

Down the other end, Al Jazira’s keeper Ali Kha­seif was kept busy.

Al Jazira coach Henk ten Cate summed it up the best, talk­ing about the team his side had some­how beaten. ‘‘They were to­day the bet­ter side, but in foot­ball some­times the best doesn’t win.’’


Auck­land City’s Dar­ren White at­tacks Mbark Bous­so­ufa (Al Jazira) dur­ing the FIFA club world cup play-off match in the United Arab Emi­rates.

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