February 29, 2012
AUCKLAND – All Whites coach Ricki Herbert saw plenty to be positive about in his fresh-faced side despite a 2-3 loss to Jamaica at Mt Smart Stadium.
The All Whites never led in the match although when Marco Rojas was sent tumbling by Jamaican goalkeeper Dwayne Miller he, his teammates and the crowd of 15,379 thought Tahitian referee Norbert Hauata would point to the penalty spot and give New Zealand first chance at opening the scoring.
That honour fell, however, to a fortuitous Xavian Virgo whose 39th minute cross bent only enough to loop over Mark Paston and in off the back post.
With the All Whites given plenty of attacking license by Herbert, the Reggae Boyz caught the home side on the break through Tramaine Stewart in the 53rd minute but Chris Wood halved the deficit after nimble footwork by Marco Rojas.
Substitute Navian Boyd restored Jamaica’s two goal cushion with 13 minutes to play but Chris Killen showed there’s plenty g life left in his legs with an 88th minute header to set up a fairytale finish that just wouldn’t come.
All Whites coach Ricki Herbert who was started seven players aged 25 or under, and drew some impressive performances from youngsters Wood, Rojas, Tommy Smith and Kosta Barbarouses was pleased with the depth and potential now at his disposal ahead of the start of FIFA World Cup qualifying in June.
“I’m pretty excited about that [depth]. It’s only a few months before we play in the OFC Nations Cup so I’ve got lots of good decisions to make.
“It was good to see woodsy score and Marco was quality. I think maybe we’re starting to be a country with a few alternatives in what we do in that front third of the pitch.”
When asked about confidence levels if New Zealand squared up against Jamaica in an inter-continental playoff in late 2013, Herbert was bullish.
“Absolutely. I’d feel very confident.”
All Whites skipper Ryan Nelsen echoed his coach’s sentiments about the All Whites chances should the two teams meet again in 18 months time.
“I think both teams would walk away from tonight confident of their chances of going through but I know we’ll be a different team then. You could tell Jamaica have had games under their belt – they looked sharper but catch us with more preparation we’re more than comfortable.”
ASB Summer International
Mt Smart Stadium
New Zealand 2 (Chris WOOD 55’, Chris KILLEN 89’)
Jamaica 3 (Xavian VIRGO 39’, Tramaine STEWART 53’, Navian BOYD 77’)
New Zealand: 1-Mark PASTON (GK), 2-Winston REID (4-Ben SIGMUND 45+1’), 3-Tony LOCHHEAD, 5-Tommy SMITH, 6-Ryan NELSEN (captain / 15-Ivan VICELICH 85’), 8-Tim BROWN, 11-Marco ROJAS (7-Leo BERTOS 74’), 14-Michael MCGLINCHEY (13-Dan KEAT 65’), 16-Jeremy BROCKIE, 17-Kosta BARBAROUSES (10-Chris KILLEN 65’), 18-Chris WOOD.
Substitutes: 9-Shane SMELTZ, 12-Scott BASALAJ (RGK).
Head Coach: Ricki HERBERT
Jamaica: 13-Dwayne MILLER (GK), 3-Damian STEWART (19-Adrian REID 88’), 5-Claude DAVIS, 6-Jermaine TAYLOR (captain), 7-Tramaine STEWART (2-Richard EDWARDS 72’), 9-Omar CUMMINGS (12-Navian BOYD 65’), 10-Keammar DALEY, 11-Luton SHELTON, 14-Xavian VIRGO, 15-Je’Vaughn WATSON (8-Jorginho JAMES 82’), 16-Troy SMITH.
Substitutes: 1-Jacomeno BARRETT (RGK), 18-Romeo PARKS, 20-O’Neil THOMPSON.
Head coach: Theodore WHITMORE
Cautions: 15-Je’Vaughn WATSON 24’, 11-Luton SHELTON 36’, 13-Dwayne MILLER 90+2’