February 24, 2012
AUCKLAND New Zealands U-23 footballers endured a night that could best be described as character building, as part of a nine-man New Zealand A side that lost 6-0 to the Saudi Arabia National Team in Melbourne on Friday night.
After restricting the Saudis down under to meet Australia in a 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier on Wednesday night to three goals on Monday night, the addition of four overage players to the U-23 side was expected to help bridge the gap.
But the presence of Cole Peverley, Aaron Clapham, Jason Hayne and Cole Tinkler was never able to be fully leveraged once the side was reduced to 10 men after just 7 minutes.
Michael Eagar went hard and late in on a tackle, catching more leg than ball, but the quick dismissal still seemed a harsh punishment for the team Wellington midfielder.
Undermanned in defence New Zealand A conceded twice in three minutes to be 0-2 behind after little more than 15 minutes, and while early substitute James Musa helped strengthen the back line, the Saudis netted again to be 3-0 ahead at the break.
Playing a full national team preparing for a do-or-die World Cup qualifier was always going to be a tough ask for the primarily locally sourced U-23 squad but with ten men it was largely one way traffic.
The deficit stretched to four nine minutes into the second half and a quick fire pair of yellow cards to Andrew Milne reduced the Kiwis to nine men for the final 24 minutes in which the Saudis added two more goals for good measure.
The New Zealand U-23s begin their Road to London at the Oceania Olympic Qualifiers in Taupo from March 16-24.
Epping Park, Melbourne
February 24, 2012
New Zealand A 0
Saudi Arabia 6 (13, 16, 30, 54, 72, pen-81)
New Zealand A: 20-Scott BASALAJ (GK), 3-Cole TINKLER (c / 2-Tim MYERS 75), 4-Michael EAGAR, 5-Cole PEVERLEY (6-Ross HAVILAND 85), 7-Cameron LINDSAY (14-James MUSA 15), 9- Jason HAYNE (18-Adam THOMAS 30), 11-Dakota LUCAS (8-Ethan GALBRAITH 46), 12-Louis FENTON, 16-Aaron CLAPHAM (15-Jason HICKS 75), 21-Michael KRAMER (17-Adam MCGEORGE 30), 22-Andrew MILNE.
Substitutes not used: 1-Rhyss KEANE (RGK), 3-Tristan PRATTLEY, 10-Andy BEVIN, 13-Alex FENDERIDIS, 19-Daniel SARIC
Injured: Sean LOVEMORE.
Coach: Chris ZOROCICH
Cautions: Andrew MILNE 66
Red Cards: Michael EAGAR 7, Andrew MILNE 66