Oceania Football Confederation > News > OFC Nations Cup 2012 > Smeltz: All Whites on track

Smeltz: All Whites on track

Smeltz’s 18th international goal, a well-placed header from an exquisite Jeremy Brockie cross, led New Zealand to a 1-0 win over Honduras in Dallas on Sunday, a result that came on the back of a 2-2 draw against El Salvador on Thursday.
If Ricki Herbert’s men retain their Oceania title they will qualify for both the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup and the next stage of FIFA World Cup qualifying, and Smeltz says Sunday’s result especially has done a fresh-faced All Whites squad a power of good heading into Honiara.
“It’s pleasing to get the result more than anything,” Smeltz says.
“It’s really good for the boys and a real confidence booster less than a week away from a tournament that’s vitally important for us. We’ve played against two very quality sides and got two decent results. It’s going to hold us in good stead for the Nations Cup.
“I think Ricki’s played it well, giving players who needed a run some time on the pitch, and boys have played in a variety of positions which is good for the squad. Where it sits right now, we’re in a healthy position.”
Of the 17 players used on Sunday afternoon, Smeltz was one of just five aged over 25. With other senior players to join the squad ahead of the Nations Cup, the A-League’s leading marksman says the future is bright for the All Whites.
“Myself and a few other boys have been around a while and you can really sense with this squad that it’s got the depth and youth you want. There are still a few players to come in and strengthen it right up. It’s probably the best position the national team has been in for a long time.
“Ricki has used the opportunity to give a few players a taste of international football and credit to everyone involved – they’ve really stepped right up and done everything that’s asked of them. There’s also players in our team that are still quite young but have already built good experience for club and country.”
New Zealand open their campaign on Saturday against Fiji before meeting Papua New Guinea on Monday and the Solomon Islands on Wednesday. The semis and final are scheduled for 8 June and 10 June respectively, giving the All Whites a testing 10-day schedule to defend their crown and book the first of what they hope will be two tickets to Brazil.
“The conditions will be tough and so will the teams we come up against but we know what to expect,” Smeltz says.
“Most of the boys have been to the islands before and know what’s coming our way. I think we’ve prepared really well. We just need to take that on and remain focused on what’s needed. There’s belief in this squad. We really feel it’s down to us and if we can play our game and be mentally strong in these games we can come out on top.”
The All Whites arrive in Honiara on Wednesday.
Story courtesy of New Zealand Football.
For more on New Zealand Football visit www.nzfootball.co.nz

Related posts