New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert felt many positives had come out of his side's 2-0 defeat to Mexico in Los Angeles last night.
Javier Hernandez and Carlos Vela scored for the Mexicans in front of over 90,000 at the Rose Bowl but Herbert was adamant he had got his tactics right. "We tried to keep it tight and tidy in our first game for five months," Herbert said. "We had a lot of key players missing and I thought we were excellent in that first half."
Herbert thought the performances of Auckland City's Chad Coombes and 19-year-old Ipswich Town defender Tommy Smith, whose allegiance switch from England to New Zealand was confirmed 48 hours before kick-off, were a real positive.
We had a lot of key players missing and I thought we were excellent in that first half.
"It was good to get them into the environment, we didn't even have time to get set plays together - just two training sessions," Herbert said. "We had an informal chat on the whiteboard and what they've done and put forward on the pitch they have certainly done no themselves harm in making the 23-man World Cup squad."
The All Whites played with a 5-3-2 formation, something it would continue to experiment with in friendly matches against Australia and Serbia. Herbert admitted his side created little in attack, had missed captain Ryan Nelsen and Ivan Vicelich in defence and right-back was still an area he had to fill.
There were no injury concerns, which will be comforting, with four of Herbert's Phoenix facing a short-turn around for their A-League semi-final against Newcastle in Wellington on Sunday. Herbert said there was no thought given to resting those players. "While I'm here it is as national coach and the best interests of the team were delivered tonight."