All Whites suffer amid Sigmund disgrace

SAM WORTHINGTON
Last updated 10:08 10/09/2013
Ben Sigmund
PETER MEECHAM/Fairax Media
DISGRACE: The All Whites' loss to UAE was marred with a shocking red card for Ben Sigmund.

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All White Ben Sigmund has apologised after being sent off for a shocking two-footed stomp on a United Arab Emirates player this morning.

Sigmund was sent off for a disgusting attack in the 89th minute of the 2-0 loss in Saudi Arabia, jumping on the legs of prone UAE goalscorer Ali Mabkhout.

All Whites manager Brian Turner said Sigmund was not available for comment but coach Ricki Herbert said he had apologised to the team.

''Yes, he has apologised but that could be in the fray of an away fixture in Mexico and you're facing a massive uphill battle to get something from the game,'' Herbert said.

Herbert said he was on the other side of Riyadh's King Fahd International Stadium and so he did not have a good view of the incident.

He planned to watch a replay.

''I think it's just frustration,'' Herbert said.

''People want to come here and do well and I think it was just the state of the game and where it was at. But you've got to accept that responsbility.''

Sigmund has always been a highly combative defender but this was blatant thuggery and he will be embarrassed when he watches a replay.

Herbert said the red card would not affect Sigmund's availability for the World Cup qualifiers in November but it could carry over to the international window next month.

The incident capped a poor peformance in the OSN Cup final.

The UAE - ranked 27 places below New Zealand at 84 - had far more organisation and imagination and capitalised on some sloppy All Whites defending to score a goal in each half.

But Herbert was not looking at the two-match tour as all doom and gloom.

He was missing some of his best attacking players and a lack of match practice combined with the oppressive heat was always going to make this tournament a more tricky proposition than the rankings suggested.

The previous 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia on Friday was shown up to be a little misleading with the UAE proving a much better side.

No 10 Omar Abdulrahman is rated one of Asia's most promising players, even attracting the interest of Manchester City, and he lapped up the space in between New Zealand's back four and ineffective midfield.

The All Whites pressed early, hunting for a quick goal in the 35-degree heat, but it was the UAE who opened the scoring, in the 10th minute.

A defensive breakdown between Winston Reid and Andrew Durante led to the goal.

Reid had what should have been a simple cross lined up but Durante appeared to get a faint touch to it and the ball fell invitingly to the feet of Mabkhout.

The impressive Mabkhout showed good awareness to cut back for Ahmed Khalil, who hit a first-time shot through the legs of Durante and into an open goal.

The second goal, in the 56th minute, was also a case of sharp UAE thinking and absent All Whites defending.

Abdulrahman took a quick free kick which caught New Zealand napping, and captain Reid dragged out of position.

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Mabkhout found himself in acres of space on the edge of the All Whites box and he coolly curled a shot past an increasingly frustrated Glen Moss.

On this performance, it won't matter whether it's Mexico, Honduras or Panama the All Whites face for a shot at the World Cup in November.

Durante was again cruelly exposed out of position in midfield and it would be unfair to ask the centre-back to continue that role.

The All Whites' strike force was starved of service and the closest they came to a goal was when Cameron Howieson's speculative free kick hit the crossbar.

Herbert made two changes from the team which beat Saudi Arabia.

Leo Bertos came in for Sigmund at right back, while Howieson replaced Jake Butler in midfield.

AT A GLANCE

United Arab Emirates 2 (Ahmed Khalil 10min, Ali Mabkhout 56min) All Whites 0. HT: 1-0.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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