Club World Cup: Auckland 1-0 Setif

Published December 13th, 2014 - 07:34 GMT

By Kris Voakes at the Stade Prince Moulay Abdellah

The incredible fairytale continues.

Auckland City, with a squad made up of models, lawyers, motor part distributors and kitchen salesmen, will play San Lorenzo in the Club World Cup semi-finals on Wednesday. And they are every bit deserving of their place in the last four.

They overcame Moroccan champions Moghreb Tetouan on penalties on Wednesday having dominated much of the game and made the better chances.

But that hadn’t been completely out of the question beforehand. The Auckland players believed they had a real chance to clear the first hurdle this year.

Yet they were not supposed to do it again. The vibe after booking a place in the quarter-finals spoke of a team happy to have achieved their objective and realistic about what laid ahead. They were likely to lose to African champions Setif in the last eight, and the players and staff could see exactly why.

“The next opponents will be a couple of levels up on what we faced on Wednesday,” one member of the travelling party told Goal in the build-up to Saturday's fixture. But that was not going to faze them one bit.

They just went out and created history all over again, beating the Algerians 1-0 in Rabat. Again, it could and should have been more. The only surprise about this run on the balance of play over their two games is that Auckland haven’t won games with greater ease.

John Irving’s strike, drilled through the grasp of Sofiane Khedairia after a nerveless drag-back 15 yards from goal, was no more than Auckland had deserved. They’d had the best two chances of the game up to that point and had continued to put faith in their excellent passing ability.

If Tetouan were disappointing on Wednesday as they were seen off by the Kiwis, Setif really were no better. They looked limp, disjointed and without direction as Ramon Tribulietx’s side grew into the game with half time approaching.

Ryan De Vries shot wide and Angel Berlanga chipped an effort onto the crossbar before Irving gave them the lead. De Vries had two more openings in the second half, while Emiliano Tade also slid a decent chance wide.

Goalkeeper Tamati Williams was only truly tested once, but still had the answer. After Mohamed Benyattou controlled well to fox Berlanga, Williams bravely rushed out to block at the striker’s feet.

Setif had little else in the way of openings. If there were any minnows on display here, they were the Africans. Meanwhile, Oceania’s finest march on.

And Auckland deserve every bit of praise that comes their way.


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