New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert hailed a job well done after his side secured a goalless draw in the first leg of their Asia/Oceania play-off against Bahrain.
The Kiwis spent much of the contest on the back foot at the Bahrain National Stadium but some resolute defending and an heroic display from goalkeeper Mark Paston ensured the tie is wide open ahead of the return leg in Wellington on 14 November. Herbert was delighted with the outcome and hinted at a more offensive display on home soil.
He said: "We were expected to lose the game but we managed to get what we came here for. We wanted to get a draw or a win and we managed to achieve our goal.
"We are satisfied with the draw because things are now open for the return leg where I guess we can have a better performance. Bahrain fans were impressive tonight and I expect our fans will support us in big numbers at home."
We were expected to lose the game but we managed to get what we came here for. We wanted to get a draw or a win and we managed to achieve our goal.
Herbert denied suggestions he had set his side up with a view to keeping a clean sheet. He added: "We didn't have a defensive performance but Bahrain had a lot of pressure against us and our advanced players also dropped back to support.
"The second leg will be tough but I believe things will be easier for us because it will be at home and in front of our fans, who will support us throughout the game."
Bahrain coach Milan Macala bemoaned his side's inability to convert the many chances they created to leave them with an uphill task of securing a maiden FIFA World Cup™ appearance. Jaycee John, Salman Isa and Husain Ali all had chances to grab a goal but were unable to provide the killer touch.
"We didn't have our expected form in the first half but things improved in the second period and the performance was better. We had a lot of scoring chances but we couldn't convert them to goals," said Macala.
"We have a lot of time before the second leg and we will prepare well for the game. We wanted to have a good result tonight to have a good advantage before the second leg but this didn't happen and hopefully we can qualify in the return leg."