NSW Thunder suffer opening round loss to Wuhan Dilong


NSW Thunder started slowly and looked nervous from the kick off. The game started at a frenetic pace with both sides having a number of early chances. Thunder was defensively strong frustrating Wuhan Dilong by picking up loose balls played in mid-court.
First chance of the game fell to Li Xin who volleyed wide of the target. Thunder then had two great opportunities to take the lead; first one fell to Adrian Vizzari whose shot was turned away by Li Kai. The rebound fell to Chris Zeballos but he could not keep his shot down and it flew just over the bar. The best chance of the half fell to Dylan Maloney when he intercepted a pass at mid-court, however his shot from just outside the ?D? sailed over the bar.
Wuhan Dilong then had a great opportunity to take the lead but Hu Jie rattled the woodwork for the Chinese. Thunder skipper Peter Spathis would have had little chance in saving it if it was on target. Two minutes before the break Wuhan Dilong took the lead when Li’s shot took a deflection off Vizzari on its way into the back of the net.
Late in the half there was an injury concern to Elliot Ragomo as he went to close down on a defensive set piece which all but ended his match.
In the second half things got worse for the Thunder as Li Xin hit a rocket as Spathis watched haplessly. The goal charged the Thunder side however and the Iranian supporters were in full support of the Australian side.
Vizzari came close to pulling a goal back when his right foot free kick cannoned off Li Kai?s shoulder, the keeper making a fine reaction save. NSW Thunder finally made the one of their numerous chances count when Zaballos played a nice one-two with Vizzari and Zaballos? right footed effort found its way into the roof of the net.
Wuhan Dilong could have sealed the points through a great chance by Hu Jie as he headed the ball onto the crossbar with the goal at his mercy.
NSW Thunder could have pulled the game level only for some heroics in the Dilong goal by Li Kai as Jake Whetney?s fierce right foot drive looked certain for the top corner only for Kai to get a hand on it to push it onto the crossbar.
Wuhan Dilong then had Li Xin sent from the field as he received a second caution. Thunder then should have made it level after a well worked free kick but Dean Lockhart could not keep his effort below the crossbar. Dilong with only four players on the court saw their lead cut as the NSW Thunder draw level when Zaballos got his double when he guided the ball home at the back post.
NSW Thunder?s defence which for the majority of the match was solid feel asleep as they allowed Wang Wei to find his way to the back post and head home from a neat cross by Hu Jie to restore the lead.
 Hu Jie then extended the lead for the Chinese team when he found space at the top of the ?D? to drive his shot past Spathis.
Thunder then tried the power play with Vizzari playing as keeper which paid immediate dividends as Vizzari played a series of one two?s up the court and fired home to give NSW Thunder hope.
Sadly it was too little too late as NSW Thunder lost its opening fixture but have the chance bounce back tomorrow as they take tackle Qatari side Al Saad.
After the match NSW Thunder coach Jamie Amendolia was philosophical about the loss and stated to Football NSW.
?The game was a very good experience for us.
?It was our first in a competition like this.
?I am very happy with our overall performance as we outplayed the Chinese side but if we don’t finish chances we don’t win games and that was the big thing for us.

?I think that comes from experience and that experience comes from playing at this level and in this competition.?
In the other Group B match Qatari side Al Sadd defeated Lebanese outfit Pro?s Caf? 8-6 while Thailand?s Port Authority played out the bye.
Match Stats
NSW Thunder: 1. Peter Spathis ?, 2. Dylan Maloney, 3. Elliot Ragomo, 6. Robert Issa, 9. Chris Zaballos
Subs: 4.Rhys Giovenali, 7. Dean Lockhart, 10. Adrian Vizzari, 11. Ediz Alpkaya, 12. Jack Whetney, 13. Roberto Maiorana (GK), 20. Lachlan Wright
Wuhan Dilong: 1. Li Kai, 2. Liang Shuang ?, 10. Wang Wei, 11. Peng Bo Yao, 13. Hu Jie
Subs: 3. Yu Chen, 5. Zhou Lei, 12. Li Xin, 19. Zhu Bei (GK)
Wuhan Dilong: Li Xin 19?, Liang Shuang 24?, Wang Wei 39?, Hu Jie 40?
NSW Thunder: Chirs Zeballos 29?, 38?, Adrian Vizzari 40?
Stadium: Pirouzi Stadium, Esfahan
Crowd: 100 approx
11:30: Al Sadd v NSW Thunder
14:00: Nawrouz v Stroitel Zarafshan
16:30: Pro?s Caf? v Port Authority (Thailand)
19:00: Bishkek v Foolad Mahan Sepahan (Iran)
11:30: Wuhan Dilong v Pro?s Cafe
14:00: Nagoya Oceans v Bishkek
16:30: Port Authority v Al Sadd
19:00: Foolad Mahan Sepahan v Nawrouz
11:30: Wuhan Dilong v Al Sadd
14:00: Nagoya Oceans v Nawrouz
16:30: NSW Thunder v Port Authority
19:00: Stroitel Zarafshan v Foolad Mahan Sepahan
11:30: Pro?s Caf? v NSW Thunder
14:00: Port Authority v Wuhan Dilong
16:30: Bishkek v Stroitel Zarafshan
19:00: Foolad Mahan Sepahan v Nagoya Oceans
16:30: Winners Group B v Runners-up Group A
19:00: Winners Group A v Runners-up Group B
16:30: Third-place play-off
19:00: Final
NSW Thunder Squad 2010
Peter Spathis (Captain) (Sydney City Eagles)
Roberto Maiorana (Inner West Allstars)
Adrian Vizzari (Inner West Allstars)
Lachlan Wright (Inner West Allstars)
Ediz Alpaka (Inner West Allstars)
Chris Zeballos (Sydney City Eagles)
Dylan Maloney Sydney City Eagles
Tudor Vasile (Sydney City Eagles)
Elliot Ragomo (Dural Warriors)
Rhys Giovenali (Dural Warriors)
Dean Lockart (Campbelltown City Quake)
Danny Martinez (Campbelltown City Quake)
Robert Issa (Mascot Vipers)
Jack Whetney (Soloman Islands)
-By Damian Briggs (Reporting from Esfahan, Iran)