June 1, 2011
DENVER, USA – The All Whites got the acid test they wanted as North American champions Mexico put three first half goals past a new-look New Zealand side at Denver’s Invesco Field on Thursday (NZT).
Already missing seven players from his wider squad through injury, and willing to throw younger players in to test their mettle against a top tier side, All Whites coach Ricki Herbert started only four of New Zealand’s World Cup regulars.
The injury crisis deepened ahead of Sunday’s trans-Tasman clash at the Adelaide Oval with four more ruled out and confirmed as non-travellers for the Australian leg of the tour.
Simon Elliott picked up a hamstring strain that medical staff believe will only be exacerbated by travel and Craig Henderson returns to Sweden after failing to recover from his existing hamstring problem.
The depth of defensive stocks against the Socceroos will be severely tested with Ivan Vicelich released to attend a family wedding and Winston Reid ruled out after straining his groin in the second half of the match.
They become additions to what has become a very long list that already includes Ryan Nelsen, Tony Lochhead, Tommy Smith, Leo Bertos, Rory Fallon and Jeremy Christie. The fitness of Marco Rojas, who missed the Denver leg with a virus, will be checked overnight to see if he is fit to join the team.
Herbert handed second caps, and first starts, to both Michael Boxall and Michael Fitzgerald in wing back roles while up front Kosta Barbarouses made just his third appearance although New Zealand never really enjoyed enough ball to their promising front players to shine.
The movement of Pablo Barrera, Giovanni Dos Santos, and Andres Guardado stretched and twisted the New Zealand defence and despite an early let off from striker Also de Nigris – who had an effort disallowed for offside – and some outstanding keeping from Glen Moss, the pressure finally told.
Former Barcelona midfielder Giovanni Dos Santos scored twice in seven minutes midway through the first period and setting up de Nigris for Mexico’s third before halftime.
With a long term view on finding the best squad to achieve the goal of qualifying for back-to-back World Cups for the first time in New Zealand’s history, Herbert was unapologetic about rolling the dice.
“It was a massive test. We were on the back foot for pretty much the whole of the match. We knew that would happen. If you came here even with your best team and fully fit you’d have a real handful,” Herbert said.
“I wanted to give those new guys a chance. A felt a bit sorry for Michael Boxall because wingback’s not his role but we’re so thin we needed to find somewhere to give him a taste of it. I think he’s got a great future with us but it’s probably in central defence and hopefully we can do that against Australia.”
The All Whites spend will spend the next morning recovering before an evening flight to Adelaide, arriving around lunchtime on Saturday. Herbert admitted it was a tough ask but said the hunger for players to push their way into his long term plans would be a large motivator.
“We’ll regroup. There’ll be chances again. People like Kosta will get another chance and Michael McGlinchey will play so again it’s just getting the balance right and getting some players time on the pitch.
“You can come here and get well beaten – we were well beaten, and it could’ve been worse for us. Credit to the guys though. At halftime we were certainly staring down the barrel and things could have looked worse for us on the score sheet. They dug deep and some of the guys that came on gave us a little bit more and there are a few positions up for grabs. We’re building a world cup squad here and there’s one or two that can push for that.”
Mexico’s next game is on Sunday as the open their CONCACAF Gold Cup defence against El Salvador.
INVESCO Field at Mile High
June 1, 2011
Mexico 3 (Giovanni DOS SANTOS 22’, 29’; Aldo DE NIGRIS 43’)
New Zealand 0
New Zealand: 1-Glen MOSS (GK), 2-Winston REID, 6-Ivan VICELICH, 7-Simon ELLIOTT (17-Aaron CLAPHAM 72’), 8-Tim BROWN (captain), 9-Shane SMELTZ (10-Chris KILLEN 46’), 11-Kosta BARBAROUSES, 13-Michael FITZGERALD (22-Jeremy BROCKIE 46’), 15-Andrew BOYENS (4-Ben SIGMUND 72’), 16-Michael BOXALL (23-David MULLIGAN 46’), 20-Chris WOOD (14-Michael McGLINCHEY 66’).
Substitutes not used: 12-Mark PASTON (RGK), 18-Jake GLEESON (RGK).
Not available: 21-Craig HENDERSON.
Coach: Ricki HERBERT
Mexico: 1-Guillermo OCHOA (GK), 2-Francisco Javier RODRIGUEZ, 3-Carlos SALCIDO, 6-Gerardo TORRADO (c), 7-Pablo BARRERA (21-Christian BERMUDEZ), 8-Israel CASTRO (13-Jesus ZAVALA), 9-Aldo DE NIGRIS, 10-Giovanni DOS SANTOS (11-Angel REYNA), 15-Hector MORENO (19-Edgar DUENAS), 16-Efrain JUAREZ, 18-Andres GUARDADO (22-Elias HERNANDEZ).
Substitutes not used: 12-Alfredo TALAVERA (RGK), 23-Jonathan OROZCO (RGK).
Coach: José Manuel de la TORRE