Auckland City players took positives from their appearance at the FIFA Club World Cup, despite losing in the first round at the tournament in Saudi Arabia.
After their 3-0 loss to Saudil champions Al-Ittihad, FIFA+ cameras caught up with City’s Nathan Lobo, Michael Den Heijer and Regont Murati.
Lobo said: “Not conceding in the second half was amazing and to play against stars like that, we knew it was going to be a tough challenge but to go out there and put in a performance like that, i think was great.”
“I was proud of our second-half performance,” Den Heijer said. “I think the boys can be proud of themselves.”
Main photo: Michael Den Heijer … sense of pride.
Murati said: “Obviously, the second-half performance was a lot better than the first. The first half they came out with guns blazing.
“It was an absolute privilege to play against the best.”
Players acknowledged that there was a scramble to seek souvenir shirts from their opponents at the final whistle.
“It was hot property to get some of the shirts out there,” Michael Den Heijer said.
Murati said he managed to get the Al-Ittahad’s “alternate 12” shirt at the end of the game.
“I’m not sure who got Benzema’s,” he said.
Watch the interviews
Here are the Auckland City post-match interviews provided by FIFA+:
Record crowd for opening game
FIFA president Gianni Infantino was at the game, watched by 50,248 fans who set a record attendance for FIFA Club World Cup opening game.
It outstripped the previous record of 47,137 set when Al Ahly faced Auckland City to open the the February 2022 tournament in Morocco.
“What a fantastic evening here in Jeddah,” Infantino said.
“Congratulations to Al-Ittihad and Auckland City for an entertaining game and thank you to everyone here for starting this competition in the best possible way. I am confident we will continue to unite the world from this beautiful country as we crown the new club champion of the world.”
Game played on Wednesday December 13 (NZT)
King Abdullah Sports City Stadium, Jeddah
Al-Ittihad 3 (Romarinho 29′, N’Gola Kante 34′, Karim Benzema 40′)
Auckland City 0