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Auckland City Delivers Another Windfall For NZ Soccer

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Auckland City Delivers Another Windfall For NZ Soccer

Wellington, Dec 17 NZPA - Auckland City's fifth placing this morning (NZtime) at the Club World Cup soccer tournament has brought a $US1.5 million ($NZ2.09 million) windfall for the sport.

The prize, which came after Auckland knocked over African champions TP Mazembe 3-2 in an upset victory at Abu Dhabi, will be shared among the eight domestic soccer franchises and New Zealand Soccer.

It was the best finish by a New Zealand team in four appearances at the tournament for continental club champions.

The scores were locked at 2-2 deep into stoppage time and the game seemed headed to penalties as there was no provision for extra time.

But in the dying seconds of four minutes' stoppage time, Grant Young and Daniel Morgan combined down the left to set up fellow substitute Riki Van Steeden who slotted the ball home from 3m for a dramatic winner.

Jason Hayne had scored Auckland's two previous goals, with one in each half.

Earlier, Auckland had already achieved a groundbreaking win over host club Al Ahli but lost 0-3 in the quarterfinals to Mexico's Atlante.

They were at far longer odds to scalp the African champions but coach Paul Posa said lessons learnt from previous appearances at the tournament had been a factor in the team's results.

Posa said he always backed his side to compete against Mazembe, from Democratic Republic of Congo.

"It's a sensational result for us. The greatest night in Auckland City football club history.

"I think the experience in 2006 in going to Japan was a huge learning curve for our club.

"At 2-1 down and Mazembe a man down, I thought we still had a chance although, to be honest, I thought it was heading for penalties," Posa said.

"I'm not surprised (about the comeback). The character the team has shown in the past 12 months has been nothing short of outstanding.

"We didn't allow ourselves the best opportunity last time and we put a lot of effort into our preparation for this tournament."

The game was turned on its head after an uneventful opening spell when Mazembe goalkeeper Muteba Kidiaba was sent off for handling the ball outside the box as Daniel Koprovcic steamed down on goal in the 24th minute.

The opening goal came when Hayne beat onrushing substitute goalkeeper Aime Bakula outside the area, chesting the ball away before calmly side-footing home.

Both sides went on the attack after the breather and Mazembe scored first through

striker Ngandu Kasongo, who beat goalkeeper Paul Gothard with a shot from outside the box to equalise on the hour.

Seven minutes later, leftback Kilitcho Kasusula gave Gothard no chance when he raced into the box to slam into the net from captain Mabi Mputu's brilliant backheel.

Auckland pulled level when Bakula blocked substitute Grant Young's effort and Hayne blasted the rebound in from the edge of the box, setting up the dramatic finish by Van Steeden.

Last month, the All Whites scooped $US10m for the sport when they beat Bahrain 1-0 on aggregate to qualify for next year's World Cup hosted by South Africa.

Scores: Club World Cup fifth place play-off: Auckland City FC 3 (Jason Hayne 2, Riki van Steeden) TP Mazembe (Congo DR): 2 (Ngandu Kasongo, Kilitcho Kasusula). Halftime: 1-0.

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