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Auckland City draw club World Cup warm-up

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 2/12/2016

Auckland City FC players celebrate a goal against ES Setif. © Christophe Ena/Associated Press Auckland City FC players celebrate a goal against ES Setif. Auckland City FC have completed their preparations for the club World Cup in Japan with a bruising 1-1 draw against SC Sagamihara.

The Oceania club champions were surprised by the ferocity of their third-tier Japanese club opponents, who snatched a late goal in Hodogoya.

Influential midfielder Mario Bilen hobbled off after suffering an early injury and is in doubt for the opening match of the club World Cup, in Yokohama on Thursday against the yet-to-be-determined J-League champions.

The visitors recovered and scored first when striker Ryan De Vries pounced on a Darren White free-kick that hit the upright.

SC Sagamihara responded just before halftime and provided a staunch defence throughout the second half, unlike Hong Kong Rangers, who Auckland City FC beat in their other warmup game on Wednesday.

The Auckland club are preparing for a sixth successive appearance at the club World Cup.

The were eliminated in their first match last year in Japan, having finished a remarkable third in the 2014 tournament in Morocco.

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