Kuwait 2 - Australia 0

Kuwait avenged their defeat against Australia in Sydney a couple of weeks back in style Wednesday at Kaifan Sports Club Stadium scoring 2-0 to bring down the Socceroos, who were gunning for a second consecutive win against the hosts. The qualifying match for the Asia Cup 2007 was action packed with fans of both teams turning out in large numbers to create a frenzied stadium. Kuwaiti forward player Bader Al Muttawa stole the thunder with two successive goals in the second half to decisively snatch victory away from the hands of the visitors.

A header in the 55th minute converting a deep pass from Farraj Al Rahib into the goal post was the defining moment of the match. In the 60th minute Muttawa pulled yet another stunner, this time with a delectable pass into the D that was duly returned to be clipped over the head of the goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer and into the net. The gallery erupted on one side, while the Socceroos fans fell quite, with their team’s fate almost sealed by the deft boots of Muttawa.

The first half was a non-scorer with either team battling tooth and nail to find a breach in the opposition defense. Many close chances were bungled by mistimed or poorly aimed shots by both sides. Some of Australia’s best chances were created by Ryan Griffiths who came in replacing Ahmad Elrich, though none of them was good enough to affect a change on the scoreboard. However, Griffith’s over-enthusiasm won him a yellow card for not keeping the required distance during a foul shot.

The game saw a total of four yellow cards being awarded, three to Australia and one to Kuwait. The hosts proved to be a better-organized team, while Australia’s last-ditch attempts to save the match forced them to commit more fouls. Australia’s Scott Chipperfield came up with some beauties too, however, the agility of goalkeeper Nawaf Khaldi proved superior at the end. Khaldi blocked some rocketing shots that would have otherwise scorched the nets to script a different result.

Khallaf Salaam was another Kuwaiti player who kept the opposition on the edge with some fantastic midfield play.

written by Valiya S. Sajjad - Arab Times