New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert has named a familiar looking line-up for today’s opening leg of the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ intercontinental play-off against Mexico.
Some notable names, however, been left on the bench including star attackers Shane Smeltz and Marco Rojas – both of whom have been struggling for match fitness – plus goalscoring hero from four years ago Rory Fallon.
Ipswich Town defender Tommy Smith will captain the side in the absence of injured skipper Winston Reid. The veteran Ivan Vicelich and Australian-born Andrew Durante make up the back-three with Glen Moss in goal as expected.
Jeremy Christie will start in midfield alongside Michael McGlinchey, Leo Bertos and Tony Lochhead, while the team’s attacking thrust will be provided by a front three of the in-form Jeremy Brockie, Chris Wood and Kosta Barbarouses.
After shifting from their initial training camp base in Los Angeles, Herbert says the group have acclimatised well since arriving in Mexico late on Monday evening.
“The feeling around the game here in Mexico is incredibly passionate and there has been an unbelievable volume of interest and the All Whites are part of that which is good for us,” Herbert said.
Our approach is something the players know and are comfortable with and we have a history of producing in.
Herbert will be looking to reprise successful tactics against Bahrain almost four years to the day as the All Whites ended a 28-year World Cup drought.
“We will need to be disciplined up against a higher ranked side and our ability to maintain our shape and perform the roles which have been given will be important for us,” Herbert said.
“Our approach is something the players know and are comfortable with and we have a history of producing in.
“There is a calm and responsible feeling around the squad at the moment and we know the challenge which awaits us.”
New Zealand line-up (3-4-3):
Glen Moss, Tony Lochhead, Tommy Smith (capt), Leo Bertos, Michael McGlinchey, Ivan Vicelich, Jeremy Brockie, Kosta Barbarouses, Chris Wood, Jeremy Christie, Andrew Durante.
Substitutes: Jake Butler, Ben Sigmund, Bill Tuiloma, Shane Smeltz, Rory Fallon, Marco Rojas, Tamati Williams, Chris James, Storm Roux, Craig Henderson, Aaron Clapham, Jacob Spoonley.