The New Zealand men’s national team returned to international action with a 2-1 win over Curaçao at the Bahrain International Stadium on Sunday morning NZ time.
First half goals from Bill Tuiloma (9’) and Chris Wood (33’) had the Kiwis dominating at the break, but a second period resurgence from Curaçao saw them get a goal back through Rangelo Janga (71’) to set up an exciting finish.
For the All Whites it ended a nearly two year wait between games.
Speaking after the game head coach Danny Hay said he was pleased with the performance but noted there were still improvements to be made.
“It’s a good win. It’s actually quite nice because we’ve come off a bit disappointed,” Hay said.
“We felt like we should have killed the game off much earlier in the second half. But there will be some good lessons for the young players in the fact that we’ve had to grind it out to get the result in the end.”
The game saw four players make their senior debut with Niko Kirwan, Matthew Garbett and Marko Stamenic starting and Kelvin Kalua coming off the bench.
The side next face Bahrain on Wednesday morning at 5am NZ time.
Starting line-up v Curaçao:
GK Stefan Marinovic (25 Caps) Hapoel Nof HaGalil, Israel
LB Liberato Cacace (3 Caps) Sint-Truidense VV, Belgium
RB Niko Kirwan (0 Caps) Padova, Italy
CB Nando Pijnaker (1 Cap) FC Helsingør (loan from Rio Ave FC), Denmark
CB Bill Tuiloma (26 Caps) Portland Timbers, USA
DM Joe Bell (2 Caps) Viking FK, Norway
CM Matthew Garbett (0 Caps) Torino, Italy
CM Marko Stamenic (0 Caps) HB Køge (on loan from FC Copenhagen), Denmark
AM Sarpreet Singh (6 Caps) SSV Jahn Regensburg (loan from FC Bayern Münich), Germany
FW Callum McCowatt (1 Cap) FC Helsingør, Denmark
FW Chris Wood (57 Caps) Burnley FC, England