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By ESPN Staff

Kuwait stun A-League Socceroos

An A-League-based Socceroos outfit could not get the job done against Kuwait on Thursday night, suffering a shock 1-0 loss to their 125th-ranked Asian Cup qualifying opponents at Canberra Stadium.

Having come into the match as raging favourites, Pim Verbeek's side fell behind to a 37th-minute goal by Kuwaiti defender Mesaed Alenzi and never recovered.

The result left Australia at the bottom of their qualifying group after two matches, and served as a reminder that qualifying for the 2011 Asian Cup in Qatar will be anything but a formality.

Coming into the match, Verbeek said he was confident the A-League players could take three points at home but this result could force him to call on his European-based players when the qualifying campaign resumes in November.

It could well have been a 2-0 loss, had Kuwait substitute Khaled Matar's fine effort not rocketed off the right upright with 10 minutes remaining.

Australia's defence looked shaky, the midfield lacked cohesion and it was again a case of failing to take their chances.

The best of those came in 23rd minute when Melbourne grand-final winning pair Tom Pondeljak and Archie Thompson both blew golden opportunities.

Pondeljak scuffed a close range shot after a Kuwaiti error and Thompson, criticised by coach Verbeek for his "hopeless" performance in January's 0-0 draw in Indonesia, hit the bar with an open goal from a tight angle.

The result was a disappointing one for the 20,032-strong crowd, the largest ever for a soccer match in Canberra, which is hoping to obtain an A-League licence in the future.

Although there had been several nervous moments in the first half, the Socceroos had looked gradually more threatening until the goal came against the run of play.

Alenzi was left unmarked inside the box and nodded home a soft goal past Eugene Galekovic, sending the visitors into joyous celebrations.

Captain Craig Moore went within centimetres of sheeting home a header just after the break, and Verbeek made his first attacking move in the 62nd minute by bringing on Queensland youngster Mitch Nichols.

He also introduced Adelaide pair Fabien Barbiero and Robert Cornthwaite in the second half but Australia could not break the deadlock.

Central Coast striker Matt Simon, handed his first start, looked dangerous at times, while 19-year-old Adelaide defender Daniel Mullen didn't have the happiest of nights on debut.

There were several late chances but Kuwait held on to give new coach Goran Tufegdzic a win in his first game in charge.

Verbeek was serving the second of a three-game sideline ban incurred during his 2007 Asian Cup stint with South Korea.

Australia fell behind to a 37th-minute goal by Kuwaiti defender Mesaed Alenzi and never recovered in front of 20,032 fans, the biggest ever soccer crowd in the capital.

"The field was fantastic, the atmosphere fantastic and you want to win the game but we have to be honest also and win didn't deserve to win this game," Verbeek said.

"Second half we played too much with our hearts and not with our head any more."

Australia's defence looked suspect, the midfield turned over the ball too much and they failed to make the most of their chances.

Their best chance to score came in 23rd minute when Melbourne grand final-winning pair Tom Pondeljak and Archie Thompson both blew golden opportunities.

Pondeljak scuffed a close range shot after a Kuwaiti error and Thompson, criticised by coach Verbeek for his "hopeless" performance in January's 0-0 draw in Indonesia, hit the bar with an open goal from a tight angle.

Verbeek and captain Craig Moore singled out Pondeljak, the Victory's grand final hero, as the only Australia player who was not below his best.

Although there had been several nervous moments in the first half, the Socceroos had been looking gradually more threatening until the goal came against the run of play.

Alenzi was left unmarked inside the box and nodded home a soft goal past Eugene Galekovic, sending the visitors into joyous celebrations.

Verbeek made his first attacking move in the 62nd minute by bringing on Queensland youngster Mitch Nichols.

He also introduced Adelaide pair Fabien Barbiero and Robert Cornthwaite in the second half but Australia could not break the deadlock.

Central Coast striker Matt Simon, handed his first start, looked the most dangerous at times while 19-year-old Adelaide defender Daniel Mullen didn't have the happiest of nights on debut.

There were several late chances but Kuwait held on to give new coach Goran Tufegdzic a win in his first game in charge.

"It was a very good result and a big win for our team and because it's a young team get more motivation for the next match," Tufegdzic said.

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