14 Aug 2008

Oly-Whites rue another tough call in Shanghai

1:06 pm on 14 August 2008

The New Zealand men's under-23 Olympic footballers are lamenting what they say was another harsh refereeing decision in their 1-0 loss to Belgium in Shanghai.

The Oly-Whites had to win to make the last eight, but a straight red card to forward Daniel Ellensohn for a late tackle moments after halftime basically put paid to any comeback.

Belgium's first-half headed goal from a corner was enough to see them through and end New Zealand football hopes at these Olympics.

New Zealand coach Stu Jacobs says this sending-off was at least as hard to take as the first one, in the opening draw with China.

Jacobs says while the call was a bit harsh, he's seen a number of other similar calls in the competition so at least the officiating has been consistent.

In other results, Nigeria qualified with a 2-1 win over the United States while fellow Africans Ivory Coast and Cameroon also progressed.

The US needed a draw to go through.

Ivory Coast qualified with a 1-0 win over Australia, who are now out, and a nil-all draw with Italy was enough for Cameroon.

Brazil and Argentina, who like Italy had qualified already, completed the group stage with 100 percent records by beating hosts China and Serbia, 3-0 and 2-0, respectively.

The Netherlands took the other place with a 1-0 win over Japan.