July 20, 2012
AUCKLAND –Goals to Shane Smeltz and Marco Rojas weren’t enough for the New Zealand Olympic men’s football team who lost 2-4 to UAE in Austria this morning in their final warm up for London 2012.
After a quick fire brace of goals saw UAE take a 2-0 lead in the 23rd minute, the strikes to the All Whites pair drew the two London-bound sides level early by early in the second half at Matrei Stadium.
A 40th minute corner was flicked on by Ryan Nelsen and buried by Smeltz’s stooping header to give New Zealand some reward at halftime and seven minutes after the break some trademark Rojas trickery gave him enough space on the edge of the area to fire of a swerving right foot shot that deceived the keeper.
Substitute Cameron Howieson, on as one of a raft of halftime changes made by coach Neil Emblen, missed a gilt-edged opportunity to give New Zealand the lead moments after Rojas’s strike but instead that honour fell to UAE from the penalty spot 19 minutes from the end. They beat the offside trap to make the game safe with a fourth goal nine minutes later.
After a testing diet of travel and warm up matches – the Oly Whites have also played Japan and Korea Republic en route to London – New Zealand coach Neil Emblen was now looking forward to arriving in Coventry and focussing on their July 26 opener against Belarus.
“We have six days before the opening game so we’ll have five full days of preparation and will really be able to get into preparing for specific scenarios which we haven’t really had time to do yet.
“We were lacklustre today to be fair and weren’t at the races for periods of the match. We were not brave enough in possession and gave them too much respect off the ball. We didn’t get into them enough.
“But we created a lot of chances and it could’ve easily been 4-4 or 5-5, it was one of those games. At times it looked as though both teams were already thinking about next week and protecting themselves for their opening match.
New Zealand’s Group C opener against Belarus comes one day before the London 2012 opening ceremony. They then meet Egypt at Old Trafford on July 29 before facing gold medal favourites Brazil in Newcastle on August 1.
Olympic build up
New Zealand U-23 2 (Shane SMELTZ 40’, Marco ROJAS 52’)
UAE U-23 4 (22’, 23’, pen-71’, 80’)
New Zealand: 18-Michael O'KEEFFE (GK), 2-Tim PAYNE, 3-Ian HOGG, 5-Tommy SMITH (14-James MUSA 46’), 6-Ryan NELSEN (Captain / 4-Tim MYERS 46’), 7-Kosta BARBAROUSES (15-Cameron HOWIESON 46’), 8-Michael McGLINCHEY, 9-Shane SMELTZ (13-Alex FENERIDIS 60’), 10-Chris WOOD (16-Dakota LUCAS 46’), 11-Marco ROJAS, 12-Adam THOMAS.
Substitutes not used: 17-Adam McGEORGE.
Coach: Neil EMBLEN