AUCKLAND – New Zealand continued their build up to the FIFA Confederations Cup with a goalless draw against Botswana in Gaborone on Sunday morning (NZT).
All Whites coach Ricki Herbert made nine changes and one positional switch – fullback David Mulligan swapping from the right to left flank – to the 11 that started against Tanzania, and introduced Kris Bright from the bench late on as he looked to give as many squad members match time as possible.
Only goalkeeper James Bannatyne and defender Ben Sigmund – who could be fit to play some part against Italy on Thursday morning (NZT) – have not featured in the first two games.
“We got a reasonable amount of this tonight,” Herbert said.
“A number of players got their first hit out, including the American-based lads, so it was a good exercise.”
“We were very resolute, and defended very well when we needed to, so I’m more than pleased.
“They’re such good sides in Africa, and Botswana have recently drawn at home to Egypt, so they’re not to be underestimated.”
Despite a taxing travel schedule so far and concerns over the condition of a freshly re-sown pitch at the University of Botswana stadium, Herbert said the team had put aside any distractions.
“The players have parked all that and just got on with what they had to do tonight and now we head to South Africa in a couple of days excited about the next challenge.”
“If you look at everything we’ve been able to get as far as the games have been concerned, Tanzania and Botswana have both been quick, athletic and look to get in behind you all of the time, and I think that’s going to be reflective of what South Africa are going to be like, probably Iraq too and certainly what the World Cup playoff will be like in October."
Meanwhile New Zealand’s second Confederations Cup opponents South Africa finished their build up with a 1-0 win over Poland.
The All Whites now move to Rustenburg on June 8, a day earlier than originally planned, to allow for extra training sessions before meeting World Champions Italy in Pretoria on June 10.
New Zealand open their FIFA Confederations Cup campaign against Spain in Rustenburg on June 14.
New Zealand 0 Botswana 0
University of Botswana Football Stadium
Saturday 6 June (June 7 NZT)
New Zealand: 12-Glen MOSS (GK), 2-Aaron SCOTT (3-Tony LOCHHEAD 79), 4-Duncan OUGHTON, 6-Ivan VICELICH, 7-Simon ELLIOTT (Captain), 10-Chris KILLEN (21-Kris BRIGHT 82), 13-Andy BARRON, 16-Chris JAMES, 17-David MULLIGAN, 18-Andrew BOYENS, 22-Jarrod SMITH (15-Jeremy BROCKIE 55).
Substitutes not used: 1-Mark PASTON (RGK), 5-Ben SIGMUND, 8-Tim BROWN, 9-Shane SMELTZ, 11-Leo BERTOS, 14-Jeremy CHRISTIE, 19-Steven OLD, 20-Chris WOOD, 23-James BANNATYNE (RGK).
Coach: Ricki HERBERT