Soccer: All Whites fall to UAE

By Cameron McMillan

Chris Wood. Photo / File
Chris Wood. Photo / File

The All Whites have ended the four nation OSN Cup with a 2-0 defeat to United Arab Emirates in the tournament final in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia this morning.

New Zealand conceded a goal in each half in a patchy performance which might leave coach Ricki Herbert with more questions than answers ahead of November's World Cup qualifying series.

Played in front of an empty stadium, it wasn't exactly ideal preparation before the away leg of their World Cup qualifier on November 14 which is expected to be played in front of a white hot atmosphere; in either Mexico, Panama or Honduras.

The New Zealand defenders struggled with the pace of the UAE attackers at times while the midfield failed to create many chances in a match which resembled a training game at times.

The All Whites also finished the match with 10 men when Ben Sigmund received a much deserved red card for stamping on a UAE player in the final stages.

UAE, ranked 84th in the world, opened the scoring in the 10th minute when a lob into the All Whites box, missed by both Andrew Durante and Winston Reid, found striker Ali Mabkhout unmarked who then set up Ahmed Khalil for the goal.

The All Whites did have their chances to equalise, first when Cameron Howieson struck the crossbar from a long range freekick and later in the opening half when Chris Wood dragged a shot wide of goal.

Their best opportunity however came from the head of a UAE defender who almost sent another Howieson free kick into his own goal, only to have keeper Ali Khaseif save his teammate's blushes with a reaction save low to his left.

Mabkhout went close to giving UAE a 2-0 lead at the break when a low drive just went wide left but he did eventually find the target early into the second half to put his side in command. A through ball found Mabkhout unmarked on the lefthand side of the field, running behind Reid, and after one touch he slotted his shot by Glen Moss.

Earlier Trinidad and Tobago won the third placed playoff against hosts Saudi Arabia 3-1.

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