New Zealand injury free for 'biggest one yet'
A rare injury-free New Zealand have been able to name their strongest squad possible for their two-legged play-off against Bahrain, with a place at next year's World Cup up for grabs.sports Updated: Sep 29, 2009 09:49 IST
A rare injury-free New Zealand have been able to name their strongest squad possible for their two-legged play-off against Bahrain, with a place at next year's World Cup up for grabs.
Coach Ricki Herbert selected a squad of 19 players on Tuesday for the two matches, in Manama on October 10 and the second leg in Wellington on November 14.
The winner of the Asia-Oceania play-off will go to South Africa 2010 for what would be New Zealand's first World Cup since 1982, while Bahrain have never made it to the finals.
Blackburn Rovers skipper Ryan Nelsen will captain a New Zealand team expected to be largely unchanged from that which beat Jordan 3-1 in Amman last month.
Striker Rory Fallon and midfielder Michael McGlinchey retain their places in the squad after impressive debuts, while Chris Killen (Celtic) and Chris Wood (West Bromwich Albion) -- late withdrawals from that squad through injury -- come back.
"This is absolutely the biggest one yet," Herbert said.
"You know we've had opportunities over the last four years to shape the team to where it's got to now. It's an incredibly important couple of fixtures."
Goalkeeper Glen Moss was the only player unavailable for selection due to a four-match World Cup suspension earned in New Zealand's final Oceania group qualifier against Fiji in November 2008.
Apart from Moss, Herbert said that for the first time he had the luxury of a fully fit squad to choose from.
"Touch wood that we go into training in Dubai with a full complement of players as that will be important to the outcome in Manama as well."
New Zealand squad: James Bannatyne (Team Wellington), Mark Paston (Wellington Phoenix), Jacob Spoonley (Auckland City), Andrew Boyens (New York Red Bulls), Tony Lochhead (Wellington Phoenix), David Mulligan (Wellington Phoenix), Ryan Nelsen (captain, Blackburn Rovers), Aaron Scott (Waitakere United), Ben Sigmund (Wellington Phoenix), Ivan Vicelich (Auckland City), Andy Barron (Team Wellington), Leo Bertos (Wellington Phoenix), Tim Brown (Wellington Phoenix), Simon Elliott (San Jose Earthquakes), Michael McGlinchey (Central Coast Mariners), Rory Fallon (Plymouth Argyle), Chris Killen (Celtic), Shane Smeltz (Gold Coast United), Chris Wood (West Bromwich Albion).