The starting line-up has a combined international cap count of 280 going into the match and Herbert believes it offers a solid platform in what is expected to be a tough encounter against a side ranked 76th in the world by FIFA.
“We’ve gone with stability given we haven’t played for a long time and we have a number of players missing, ” Herbert says. “I’m thrilled to have the bench we’ve got and we’re going to go to that as much as we can.”
Herbert has chosen the experienced Ivan Vicelich as captain and the Auckland City defender slots into a back three alongside Andy Boyens and Tommy Smith. Gold Coast United goalkeeper Glen Moss wins his 17th international cap.
Vicelich, winning his 72nd cap, is ecstatic with the honour of leading his country.
“It’s a great honour to captain my country,” Vicelich says. “It’s going to be great to lead the All Whites out but the important thing is we want to get a good result and continue the success of the past couple of years.”
Vicelich, who has captained the All Whites previously, downplayed the responsibility and is taking a pragmatic approach to the responsibility.
“Even without the captaincy you’ve got to show leadership anyway. We ask that of all the players, especially the experienced players. Whether the arm band is on or not, that’s part of the responsibility of being an experienced player,” he says.
Herbert says Vicelich was a popular choice among players and management for the honour.
“I’ve got a heap of respect for Ivan – he’s had a wonderful career as a player and a fantastic World Cup. He’s extremely well respected amongst this group,” Herbert says. “He’s a wily old campaigner but hopefully he’s around for a while yet.”
The All Whites midfield will see Jeremy Brockie start wide right with Central Coast Mariners schemer Michael McGlinchey handed a starting role alongside another diminutive midfielder, David Mulligan. Pacey Wellington Phoenix left-sided player Tony Lochhead completes the midfield quartet.
Up front, Herbert sticks by the tried and tested combination of Shane Smeltz and Chris Killen, with Chris Wood in line for his 15th international cap.
By contrast, the All Whites substitutes bench features three uncapped players in Marco Rojas, Michael Boxall and Michael Fitzgerald while Jacob Spoonley, Kosta Barbarouses and Aaron Clapham share four caps between them.
“We will inject them at some point, I think that’s really important,” Herbert says.
“I’ve spoken to all those players and they could be an integral part of the World Cup campaign and hopefully in Brazil in 2014. Fitzgerald could do a good job for us and Barbarouses definitely up front.”
“I’m excited as most people to see these guys come on with different attributes. Smeltzy and Killen have good talent coming up behind them. Woodsy is coming in late and he’s just played a game so I see him going sixty minutes and certainly Marco Rojas and Kosta Barbarouses being part of it for a strong part of the second half.”
China midfielder Hao Junmin plays his club football with German giants FC Schalke alongside former Real Madrid star Raul.
The 24-year-old has 28 caps and has scored seven goals for his country and was named China’s Young Player of the Year in both 2005 and 2007.
China was knocked out at the group stage of the Asian Cup in January but has won its last four friendly internationals, three of them against European nations.
China is scheduled to play three matches in the current international window, also facing Costa Rica and Honduras.
Friendly International
China v New Zealand
Friday 25 March, kick-off 7.30pm local
(12.30am Saturday 26 March NZ time)
Wuhan Centre Sports Stadium
Hubei Province
New Zealand (3-4-3): 1- Glen MOSS (GK); 4-Ivan VICELICH ©, 5-Tommy SMITH, 13- Andrew BOYENS; 3- Tony LOCHHEAD, 7-Michael McGLINCHEY, 11-Jeremy BROCKIE, 15-David MULLIGAN; 8- Chris WOOD, 9-Shane SMELTZ, 10-Chris KILLEN.
Substitutes: 12- Jacob SPOONLEY(GK), 16-Kosta BARBAROUSES, 20-Aaron CLAPHAM, 21-Marco ROJAS, 22- Michael FITZGERALD, 2-Michael BOXALL.
Coach: Ricki HERBERT (NZL)
China (from): 1-Cheng YUELEI (GK), 2-Li XUEPENG, 3-Liu YU, 4-Zhao PENG, 5-Du WEI, 6-Wang SONG, 7-Cui PENG, 8-Hao JUNMIN, 9-Yang XU, 10-Deng ZHUOXIANG, 11-Yan XIANGCHUANG,12-Teng SHANGKUN (GK), 13- Liu JIANYE 14-Li WEIFENG, 16-Yu HANCHAO, 19-Yu TAO, 20-Rong HAO, 21-Huang BOWEN, 22-Zeng CHENG (GK), 25-Liu XIAODONG, 27-Yu DABAO.
Coach: Gao HONGBO (CHN)
Referee: Masaaki TOMA (JPN)
Assistant Referee 1: Zheng WEIXIANG (CHN)
Assistant Referee 2: A LAMUSI (CHN)
Fourth Official: Wang ZHE (CHN)
Live on Sky Sport 1 (12.25am Saturday 26 March NZ time)
Story courtesy of New Zealand Football.
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