Spanish giants blank Kuwait 2-0 Real, Ronaldo mesmerize Kuwait By Chidi Emmanuel KUWAIT: Activities in Kuwait were brought to a halt yesterday evening as the Spanish La Liga champions played with the Kuwait national team at the Al-Kuwait Sports Club stadium in Kaifan. The stadium was filled to capacity as Kuwaiti youths, fans and families struggled to catch a glimpse of the Madrid team. The match, which Real won 2-0, started with lots of pomp and peasantries. There were colorful fireworks displays as fans blew their vuvuzelas reminiscent of the South African 2010 World Cup. Real Madrid's most valuable player Cristiano Ronaldo made the first goal attempt with a header from the centre of the penalty box after Mesut Ozil made a cross following a corner. Angel Di Maria scored the first goal in the 27th-munite with a left footed shot from outside the box to the bottom right corner of the goal. The second goal came from Ronaldo in the 31st minute with a header from very close range. There were more attempts by Ronaldo who received hearty cheers from Kuwaiti fans for every move he made. Kuwait national team players who were the underdogs made few attempts to score after a free kick won by Mesaed Nada Al-Enezi. Kuwait's Fahd Al-Ansari also missed an opportunity after a shot from more than 35 yards was blocked by Real Madrid's Karim Benzema in the 12th minute of the game. Another attempt by Kuwait's Al Maatouq Al-Maatouq was called off with Hamad Al-Enezi caught offside. The second half brought a lot of changes from both sides. Real Madrid made several changes as Kaka replaced Ozil; Alvaro Arbeloa replaced Di Maria; Raul Albiol replaced Ricardo Carvalho while captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas was substituted with Antonio Adan. Also, Lass Diarra replaced Nuri Sahin as Marcelo replaced Fabio Coentrao and Pepe replaced Raphael Varane. Gonzalo Higuain replaced Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos substituted Esteban Granero. On the Kuwait side, Mohammad Rashed, Jarah Al-Atiqi, Hussain Fadel, Saleh Al-Sheikh, Khaled Al-Rashidi, Ali Al-Maqseed and Hussain Al Moussawi replaced Fahad Al-Enezi, Hamad Al-Enezi, Al-Maatouq, Fahad Awadh Shaheen, Nawaf Al-Khaldi, Yousef Naser Al-Sulaiman, Waleed Ali respectively. The Kuwait team played with lots of courage during the second half although they were overpowered by their Spanish counterparts. "This is just for fun. We know they (Real Madrid) are not our match in any way," Abdulla Naser, a Ronaldo fan said as he posed with his Ronaldo T-shirt. The Spanish giants mesmerized the fans as they casually played with ease and with Kuwaiti supporters singing their praises. "This is just a package of fun and excitement. We know that we can't beat them (Real Madrid). The game is only aimed at boosting and encouraging our national team. Playing with one of the biggest and strongest team in the world is a plus to the Kuwait national team," Ali, a Kuwaiti football official, said. In a press statement prior to the game yesterday, Real Madrid Coach Jose Mourinho promised to play the Kuwait national team in the best way and in the best form they can. He added that by "playing the best way they can is a way to respect their host - the Kuwait national team". The match, which was played under the patronage of HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, attracted lots of dignitaries including the First Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Ahmad Al-Humoud Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and other top government officials. The Kuwait National Football Team is controlled by the Kuwait Football Association. The team made its first World Cup Finals appearance in 1982, managing a draw with Czechoslovakia but losing to England and France in a controversial match. During the match against France, the French team scored a goal while some of the Kuwaiti players had stopped, having heard a whistle. The goal was initially awarded by the referee, who had not blown, but Kuwait walked off the pitch in protest. They eventually resumed playing only after the intervention of Sheikh Fahd Al-Ahmad and the referee's changing his mind to disallow the French goal. Kuwait national team had better success contending for the Asian Cup, reaching the finals in 1976 and taking home the winner's trophy in 1980. Kuwait's 20-0 win over Bhutan in 2000 was at the time the biggest ever win in international football. It was surpassed in 2001, when Australia beat Tonga 22-0. Also in 2000, Kuwait took part at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Kuwait, who last qualified for the FIFA World Cup in 1982 are drawn with Korea Republic, United Arab Emirates, and Lebanon in the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification.

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