Although scheduled for late May, the specific date for the Serbia fixture has not yet been locked in, but the Football Association of Serbia and New Zealand Football have agreed to play a friendly in Austria, where both teams will hold training camps.
New Zealand will conclude their camp by travelling across the Slovene-Austrian border to Maribor for a June 4 date at Stadion Ljudski vrt.
With the All Whites already looking forward to a March 3 friendly against CONCACAF Champions Mexico in the USA, coach Ricki Herbert was excited about adding high calibre European opposition to the schedule.
“I think it’s great. Compared to what we’ll face at the World Cup we’re going to have in Slovakia at Italy it fits perfectly,” Herbert said.
“We’ll be at altitude, in a country with very good training facilities and two excellent opposition to play so you couldn’t ask for anything more.”
New Zealand will play all three of its Group F matches – against Slovakia, Italy, and Paraguay on June 15, 20 and 24 respectively – at altitude and Herbert thinks his players will respond to well to acclimatising at the foot of the Austrian Alps.
“It’s the ideal situation given the venues for our three pool games, and it’ll be fresh surroundings for the players as it’s a part of the World we haven’t been to as a team.
“We’ll head to South Africa having experienced everything we need to do and move into our base camp. It couldn’t have worked better for us.”
New Zealand Football are still exploring options for further warm up matches, including the viability of a home international, and options for camps for some players outside established FIFA windows.
“Those camps could be quite important for us, as it covers a lot of bases for those players whose seasons may be finished,” Herbert said.
Serbia, who finished top of their European qualifying group, have been drawn in Group D alongside Germany, Australia and Ghana. Slovenia face England, Algeria and the USA in Group B, after finishing behind Slovakia in qualifying but edging Russia in a two legged playoff for one of the final spots in South Africa.
Meanwhile New Zealand Football are close to confirming the All Whites’ World Cup base camp as Serengeti resort outside Johannesburg, while the exact location of their Austrian training camp is yet to be confirmed with All Whites Sports Scientist Kenny McMillan undertaking reconnaissance trips for NZF from his UK base.
Confirmed World Cup Build-up
March 3
New Zealand v Mexico
Pasadena, USA
Late May (date tbc)
New Zealand v Serbia
Klagenfurt, Austria
June 4
New Zealand v Slovenia
Maribor, Slovenia
2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa
June 15
New Zealand v Slovakia
June 20
New Zealand v Italy
June 25
New Zealand v Paraguay
Story courtesy NZF Media
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