March 29, 2009
AUCKLAND – A ring-rusty New Zealand got the taste of Asian conditions they wanted, but not the result, losing 1-3 to Thailand in sapping Bangkok temperatures on Sunday morning (NZT).
The All Whites started strongly but a lack of recent match play for the majority of the squad eventually told in temperatures that hit 38 degrees during the day and remained in the mid thirties even after the early evening kick-off.
With Chris Killen and Jarrod Smith both ruled out through injury, Kris Bright made the most of his first starting berth, taking just eight minutes to open the scoring.
The Panserraikas striker checked his run to help him spring the Thai offside trap, beating the oncoming goalkeeper to the ball and neatly slotting his first international goal.
But the lead lasted just four minutes with Thailand forcing a save from Mark Paston that rebounded back into the fray for a Thai boot to poke home.
The match doubled as a testimonial for Thai captain Tawan Sripan, and the 147 cap midfielder celebrated with a 19th minute curling effort from the edge of the area that put the home side 2-1 up at halftime.
All Whites coach Ricki Herbert used all four available outfield substitutes – including debutant Aaron Scott – in the second half to inject some fresh legs, and while renewed energy lead to greater pressure on the Thais, the home side caught New Zealand with a 77th minute counter-attack to secure the win.
Herbert said it was crucial to experience the testing conditions New Zealand would likely face in the away leg of the World Cup playoff against a yet-to-be-determined Asian nation later in the year.
“This is what we need. It doesn’t matter who we get in October-November, we’re going to get the heat,” Herbert said.
“In the first 10 minutes we could’ve been 2-0 up and at the end of the day it was solely what we thought it would be with a concern, just physiologically, of being able to get round the park for the whole ninety minutes.
“To be fair we gave them a couple of goals through clumsy errors that put us on the back foot and I’m not sure we would do that again but we hung in and kept going.”
“Ultimately, ninety percent of the players haven’t played or aren’t playing at the moment and we looked rusty.”
The All Whites now play Thailand ‘A’ on Tuesday night (Wednesday morning NZT) with much of that team drawn from the 23-man squad Thailand coach Peter Reid used against New Zealand in the first match.
“The players are very honest tonight on where their performances sit and where they are from a fitness point of view, and they understand that. So all hands are very firmly in the air, and we move forward to Tuesday, which will be no different,” Herbert added.
New Zealand 1 (Kris Bright 8) Thailand 3
Supachalasai Stadium, Bangkok
New Zealand: Mark PASTON (GK), David MULLIGAN (Aaron SCOTT 70), Ryan NELSEN (Captain), Andrew BOYENS, Tony LOCHHEAD, Duncan OUGHTON (Jeremy CHRISTIE 55), Simon ELLIOTT, Tim BROWN, Jeremy BROCKIE (Chris JAMES 60), Shane SMELTZ, Kris BRIGHT (Kris BOUCKENOOGHE 78).
Substitutes not used: Glen MOSS (RGK).
Unavailable: Chris KILLEN (injured), Jarrod SMITH (injured).
Coach: Ricki HERBERT