Mixed results in Asian Cup 2007 warm-up friendlies

The USA beat China 4-1 in San Jose, California on Saturday in a football friendly that served as a tournament tuneup for both. The Americans, who improved to 5-1 overall against China, open their defence of the North American Gold Cup next week. China, sliding to 2-3 in 2007 ahead of next month's AFC Asian Cup 2007, faced growing domestic pressure after losing last month to Thailand for the first time in 14 years.

South Korea fell to the Netherlands 0-2 on Saturday at Seoul World Cup Stadium. Coach Pim Verbeek blamed the K-League for its congested schedule. "I can't believe that the K-League scheduled a cup semifinal three days before the national team play. It's stupid, disrespectful and bad for Korean football," he told Kang Seung-woo of The Korea Times. Dutch coach Van Basten spoke well of the Korean teams' performance. "They have good technical skills, press well and they tried to attack. With a little more confidence they can do a good job in the Asian Cup," he commented.

A clanger from Australia's under-used goalkeeper Brad Jones gave Uruguay the winning goal in its 2-1 defeat of the Socceroos in an Asian Cup warm-up match in Sydney on Saturday. Playing without seven of their established FIFA World Cup 2006 stars including first-choice keeper Mark Schwarzer, the Australians looked to have Uruguay's measure in the second half and were set for a draw. But Jones, making his international debut, failed to handle a high cross and gave Inter Milan star Alvaro Recoba the simplest of winners in the 77th minute. Australian coach Graham Arnold said he had approached Gareth Southgate the skipper of English Premier League club Middlesbrough seeking more opportunities for his back-up keeper. "It won't affect Brad's Asian Cup chances. I know what he can do, it's a mistake, everyone makes mistakes, I've seen senior players make mistakes and you just have to get on with it," he said.

Iran’s preparations for the Asian Cup suffered a blow as it went down 4-0 at the hands of host Mexico in a friendly on Saturday. Iran coach Amir Ghalenoiee was missing five of his Europe-based players. Vahid Hashemian, Ali Karimi and Rahman Rezaei and Andranik Teymourian missed the game due to their club commitments while Mehdi Mahdavikia opted out to have some rest.

On Sunday, Singapore beat an aggressive but uncoordinated Indonesian side 1-0 in an Asian Cup warm-up friendly at the national Stadium in Jakarta despite playing with only 10 men for much of the match. On Friday, Indonesia easily outclassed Hong Kong 3-0 in a friendly at the same venue but took a big blow in losing star striker Boas Salossa with a possible broken leg.

Japan made a winning start to its Asian Cup preparations with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Montenegro in the Kirin Cup on Friday. The reigning Asian champions got both goals before half-time but eased off in the second period when Montenegro, playing just its second international since independence, missed a penalty. "I'm not satisfied at all, because we played well in the beginning, but some players started to play individually. Our football is to move the ball quickly, but it was destroyed by playing individually," Japan coach Ivica Osim said.

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