March 26, 2013
AUCKLAND – The All Whites round out their FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign against the Solomon Islands in Honiara safe in the knowledge that they are Oceania’s qualifier for the intercontinental playoff in November.
A 2-1 stoppage time win over New Caledonia at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin gave New Zealand an unassailable lead and the opportunity to rest key players for the dead rubber with the Solomon Islands.
New All Whites captain Winston Reid has returned to England, along with goal scoring hero Tommy Smith and Chris Wood. Shane Smeltz is back home nursing his horrific facial injury, Michael McGlinchey and Marco Rojas slip back into their respective A-League finals campaigns, Chris Killen is in China and Ivan Vicelich jets out with his Auckland City side to New Caledonia for an OFC Champions League match this weekend.
Ricki Herbert has called up two new caps in utility Cameron Lindsay of the Wellington Phoenix and left sided player Luke Rowe from Team Wellington. The All Whites boss has also recalled another two players from the ASB Premiership in Aaron Clapham of Canterbury United and Waitakere United's Aaron Scott.
Wellington Phoenix captain Andrew Durante has also been included in the squad, with his defensive partner at the Wellington Phoenix, Ben Sigmund, returning from suspension.
The sides met twice at the OFC Nations Cup with Benjamin Totori starring in each encounter, the first a 1-1 draw in group play and the second a 4-3 win to the kiwis in the match for third place. The two sides met on match day two of the stage three qualifiers in Auckland last September with the All Whites running out 6-1 winners in chilly conditions.
The Solomon Islands face the arduous task of travelling from one side of the Pacific Ocean to the other having lost their penultimate qualifier 2-0 in Tahiti on Friday, but due to the International Date Line have had one day less recovery for their final match in front of their fervent fans at Lawson Tama Stadium.
Herbert too has had his share of travel headaches with the All Whites left on the plane for an extended period at Brisbane International Airport due to a storm, and flight delays yesterday thanks to mechanical problems. The team has settled in Honiara and is looking forward to the match.
"It hasn't been the smoothest preparation to an international match, but we've seen some familiar faces from the last time we were here and it's been good since we touched down," Herbert said from the Solomon Islands.
No doubt Herbert will have memories of the last dead rubber the All Whites played at FIFA World Cup qualifying level in the 2010 campaign when they lost 2-0 to Fiji.
"Even though we have qualified we still have a responsibility to perform and round out our campaign with a perfect record," said Herbert.
The match with the Solomon Islands kicks off at 5pm (NZT) on Tuesday at Lawson Tama Stadium in Honiara.
There is no broadcast coverage of the match in the Solomon Islands with live text updates available on www.oceaniafootball.com
FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Oceania Stage Three
Match day six | Tuesday, March 26
Solomon Islands v New Zealand
Honiara, Solomon Islands
Kickoff: 3pm (5pm NZT)
New Zealand (from): 1-Mark PASTON (gk), 3-Aaron SCOTT, 4-Ben SIGMUND, 7-Leo BERTOS, 9-Luke ROWE, 10-Cameron LINDSAY, 12-Jacob SPOONLEY (gk), 13-Dan KEAT, 14-Ian HOGG, 16-Jeremy BROCKIE, 17-Kosta BARBAROUSES, 18-Tim PAYNE, 19-Aaron CLAPHAM, 22-Andrew DURANTE
Coach: Ricki HERBERT
New Caledonia v Tahiti
Stade Numa Daly, Noumea