Words: Terry Maddaford
Monday 7 December 2009
Picture: Phototek NZ
Ian Hogg had plenty of explaining to do when he walked into breakfast yesterday.
A story in the local Gulf News told the story of how Hogg had had to ask his wife back home to postpone his 20th birthday bash.
It was news to the Auckland City party and led camp mother Arthur Egan to inform the young Hogg that his 20 team-mates were demanding he be fined $100 -- $5 each -- for not inviting them to his wedding.
The story by senior writer M. Satya Narayan said, in part, “my wife has organised a bit of bash back home but I will have to call her and put it off now. Maybe my friends will not mind it.”
For whatever reason, maybe he was a little coy in mixing it with his mates, Hogg sat out training last night as he iced a slight hamstring injury. There was no suggestion he would not be fit to play against Mexican champions Atlante FC at the Zayed Sports City in tonight’s second quarter-final at the Fifa Club World Cup.
There was better news elsewhere. After missing the 2-0 win over Al Ahli on Wednesday night, James Pritchett could be back in contention for tonight’s quarter-final. After completing a fitness, and proclaiming he was “about 90 per cent right” Pritchett joined the rest of the squad for the last part of the hour-long training session they were allowed at the match venue. Keryn Jordan is almost certainly out of contention as he is now scheduled to fly home early (arriving Tuesday morning) to seek treatment on his injured knee.
The players felt more at home last night with the arrival of the first rain since landing in Dubai almost two weeks ago.
It did not amount to much but it helped keep temperatures to the coolest they have been since arriving here.
The 45,000-seat stadium is impressive even if the pitch is 33.5m in from the outside perimeter of the ground. The running track between the stands and the playing field is covered in artificial grass.
The team will be hoping they get a better run on the trip to the ground for tonight’s match.
Further from the city than the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium where City train and also played their tournament opener, the travel time was further extended when the police escort went to the wrong entrance and the bus was later delayed in having to wait to park adjacent to the stadium.
Assistant coach Ramon Tribulietx and midfielder Ki-Hyung Lee darted away at the end of the hour-long session to join goalkeeping coach/video analyst Simon Eaddy in watching the second half of the first quarter-final between African champions TP Mazembe and Asian representatives Pohang Steelers.
After watching the Steelers come from 0-1 at halftime to win 2-1 with Denilson scoring twice, Trubulietx said should City meet the Africans in the fifth-sixth play-off he would not be too concerned.
“They are a physical team,” Trubulietx admitted. “But very disorganised.”
City coach Paul Posa continues to keep his feet on the ground in looking ahead to tonight’s game with Atlante. He knows it is a huge step up from their first match here and is not daring to think ahead to the next game if they win.
Waiting for the winner of tonight’s is the might of Barcelona but even they are not without some concerns as star player Lionel Messi limped out of the Champions League tie with Dynamo Kiev on Wednesday night with an ankle injury. Messi’s 87th minute strike was the winner in the 2-1 victory which catapulted the Spaniards into the last 16.
After post-match tests, the club said Messi is unlikely to play today’s La Liga match with Espanyol -- their last outing before flying out to the World Club Cup.
After bearing the brunt of chairman Ivan Vuksich’s “cross-dresser from Arbroath line” crack earlier in the week, City stalwart Colin Cook had a chuckle of his own yesterday when he learned that in his haste to get away to an important pre-match function, Vuksich had mistakenly grabbed his wife Maria’s accreditation and was slightly embarrassed when, some time later, someone pointed out he did not look a lot like the photo on his badge.
He who laughs last..........
Sat 16 Jan, 2021, Kiwitea Street, kick-off: 2pm NZDT