Australia, Mexico 1- 1 draw in Oakland
Pat Garcia | March 3, 2008 at 06:25 amby
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(03-02) 21:23 PST Oakland -- It's a good thing the Beijing Olympics are five months away - both the Mexican and the Australian soccer teams need to get in a bit more work.
In an exhibition game that had as many rough edges as quality play, the under-23 squads from Mexico and Australia played to a 1-1 draw Sunday before 47,416 fans at McAfee Coliseum.
Neither side was particularly disturbed by the result.
For the Olyroos, as the Aussie team is known Down Under, it was a chance for coach Graham Arnold to check out new talent - six players, some of whom are playing in the current European pro leagues, were missing from the starting side that clinched an Olympic berth in November, qualifying out of the Asia zone.
"Today was a wonderful experience for them," Arnold said. "They were playing before a huge crowd against a side that something to prove to (Mexico coach) Hugo Sanchez. This was a real good test for us."
For El Tri, the game gave Sanchez an idea whom he's going to select for next week's regional Olympic qualifying tournament that takes place in Carson (Los Angeles County) and Nashville.
The Olyroos kicked off their Beijing Games build up by snatching a 1-1 draw against Mexico in front of a sellout 47,000-strong crowd in Oakland, California today.
Newcastle Jets midfielder Troy Hearfield grabbed the equaliser two minutes from full time for the Australian under-23s in their first match since clinching qualification for Beijing last November.
The Mexicans opened the scoring at the McAfee Coliseum, courtesy of an own goal from Jets defender Adam D'Apuzzo, who deflected in a cross.
Mexico had the better of the chances but Australia defended gallantly, led by Fulham defender and acting captain Adrian Leijer.
Goalkeeer Tando Velaphi also impressed in place of banned Central Coast Mariners stopper Danny Vukovic.
The Olyroos' equaliser eventually came when Leijer's glancing header from a long throw-in was rammed in from close range at the far post by Hearfield.
It was an impressive result for Graham Arnold's team against a Mexican side coached by legendary striker Hugo Sanchez.
"Today was our first step towards Beijing since we qualified, and while it was a good result, the main thing was the match gave me an opportunity to look at some different players and to see what they can do at this level," Arnold said.
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