Blackburn's Nelsen to lead Kiwis
Blackburn Rovers skipper Ryan Nelsen will lead New Zealand in their friendly against Thailand on 28 March, ahead of this year's FIFA Confederations Cup and the play-off matches to reach the 2010 FIFA World Cup™.
New Zealand Football is also trying to secure a second international against an Asian country to replace a match cancelled against Indonesia in Jakarta on 1 April, due to security concerns surrounding upcoming legislative elections.
An 18-man squad was named for the Thai match, with Wellington Phoenix pair Ben Sigmund and Leo Bertos ruled out through injury. Coach Ricki Herbert said the trip to Thailand was a good way to begin an important year.
In October, Oceania zone winners New Zealand will play the fifth-placed team from Asian qualifying for a spot at South Africa 2010.
Herbert said the match against Thailand would give the All Whites an idea of the task facing them. "Whilst some of the squad are at the back end of their season and have had a bit of a break, it'll be really good to get them together again," he said.
New Zealand squad:
Goalkeepers: Mark Paston (Wellington Phoenix), Glen Moss (Melbourne Victory, Australia)
Defenders: Kris Bouckenooghe (Roeselare, Belgium), Andrew Boyens (New York Red Bulls, USA), Tony Lochhead (Wellington Phoenix), David Mulligan (Wellington Phoenix), Ryan Nelsen (captain, Blackburn Rovers, England), Aaron Scott (Waitakere United)
Midfielders: Tim Brown (Wellington Phoenix), Jeremy Christie (Wellington Phoenix), Simon Elliott (unattached), Chris James (Tampere United, Finland), Duncan Oughton (Columbus Crew, USA)
Forwards - Kris Bright (Panserraikos, Greece), Jeremy Brockie (North Queensland Fury, Australia), Chris Killen (Norwich City, England), Shane Smeltz (Gold Coast United, Australia), Jarrod Smith (Seattle Sounders, USA)