It’s been four years since the ‘Horror of Honiara’. The All Whites coach of 2012, Ricki Herbert, is currently head coach of the Maldives National team, placed one higher than New Zealand in the rankings. So, that’s a promising start.
It’s not been easy for Anthony Hudson. His complaint about a lack of professionalism among young New Zealand players and the problems involved in getting fixtures for his All Whites side in January came eighteen months into his tenure as manager, but the last problem has been evident for a while longer.
The day before New Zealand’s game against Vanuatu at this year’s OFC Nations Cup, May 30th, will be the second anniversary of the last time an All Whites side played a game in New Zealand. When Hudson took his youthful training squad last week, it was reported as his first on New Zealand soil since his appointment. It’s tricky to generate support for a team that never plays at home.
Onto the squad then. There’s a lot of experience up front, but precious little behind it.
Michael Boxall at the back has 14 caps – more than the total of all the other defenders and all three goalkeepers combined. It is good to see Tamati Williams back in ‘keeper contention, mind you.
The midfield of seven has McGlinchey as the McLinchpin, his 33 caps again dwarfing his fellow players. Clayton Lewis and Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi are included, fresh from the OCL triumph with Auckland City. So too is Bill Tuiloma, whose loan at Strasbourg was probably better than staying at Marseille this season.
Up front, Rory’s back. There’s an equal number of forwards as there are midfielders, seven, although the definition of forwards as opposed to strikers means there’s fluidity of position there. Certainly Marcos Rojas and Kostas Barbarouses are more wingers than forwards, but there can be no doubt about Smeltz, Fallon, Wood, Rogerson and Paterson.
Curiously there’s no Jeremy Brockie, the most in-form Kiwi striker at the minute. Less curiously Winston Reid and Tommy Smith aren’t in, although the preservation of the former’s career has seen him left out, while the preservation of the latter’s career has seen his All Whites involvement end.
The preparation, games against clubs in Brisbane and Queensland, seems reminiscent of other troubling episodes of times past. While qualification to the next stage of World Cup seems easy, New Zealand really need to win the bloody thing. Not just because of the lucrative Confederations Cup next year, but that’s a part of it. Not just because of that looming inter-confederation playoff against whoever comes fifth in South America, but that’s a part of it too. Here’s why a win is essential.
Hudson’s been in charge for nearly two years now. He’s managed eight games in that time, and had zero tournaments to take part in. This is undeniably his squad, his pick of players – even down to letting Winston Reid recover over the summer.
For all the talk of professional attitudes and responsibility, this is where we find out whether Anthony Hudson can actually do the job he was employed to do. Win, when winning matters.
Categories: All Whites