A young and inexperienced New Zealand All Whites side will take the field this Friday against South Africa missing a host of their best players. While most punters will undoubtably use this as yet another reason to have a go at NZ Football, the benefit is that it gives some of the NZ fringe players an opportunity to play an international friendly and gain valuable experience.
Interim coach Neil Emblen, who was handed the role following Ricki Herbert’s departure, will be without English based players Chris Wood, Tommy Smith and usual captain Winston Reid. He’ll also be without access to A-League players Kosta Barbarouses and Shane Smeltz who was blocked from playing by his new club Sydney FC.
Taking the places of the A-League attacking duo will be Jason Hicks (Wellington Phoenix) and James Musa (South Melbourne FC). For Hicks and Musa, who are both uncapped, the unavailability of the usual starters provides them with the perfect opportunity to impress on the big stage.
Neil Emblen has already expressed his desire to use this match as a stepping stone to future qualifying events and wants to build on the second half success the young All Whites had against Japan back in March. Down 4-0 after just 17 minutes, the All Whites looked like they were heading for a double figure loss. But a tactical change by Emblen lead to a much improved second half and two goals to Chris Wood before the match finished up 4-2.
Expect to see more of that attacking style of play this Friday as Emblen looks to create chances for Marco Rojas, Tyler Boyd and Ryan Thomas to show their scoring abilities. Although Emblen won’t admit it, the match also acts as a trial for the fulltime coaching role, which leads to the theory that an attacking style of play is needed if he is to impress NZF and build a case for himself to be appointed.
South Africa enter the match in a similar position to the All Whites with a number of their top players also not fronting for their national team. They did however manage an unexpected 1-1 draw against World Cup bound Australia on Monday evening in Sydney.
NZ Football is hoping for a crowd of around 10,000 at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland on Friday night. A big ask considering the weakened sides that each team is fielding.
Expected All Whites XI…
. Roux Boxall Durante Howieson
. Rojas Payne McGlinchey Thomas