OFC: Top Australian Referee, Mark Shield, has been appointed as the fourth official for New Zealand’s opening match of the FIFA Confederations Cup against Japan in France tomorrow morning (NZT). The All Whites will be playing Japan at the Stade de France in Paris.
The young referee will not be daunted however having officiated previously at the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea/Japan. Shield will get his first appointment in the middle when France plays Japan in St Etienne on 20 June. He will be joined by countryman and assistance referee, Jim Ouliaris, who will be manning the sidelines in that same match. Other match appointments have yet to be finalised by FIFA.
Meanwhile, the All Whites coach Mick Waitt has named his starting line-up to face Japan. Michael Utting gets the nod at goalkeeper ahead of Jason Batty. There is no room for giant fullback Danny Hay who will be on the bench. He is still recovering from injury and Waitt has taken the safe option in naming a match fit defensive line led by captain Chris Zoricich partnering Ryan Nelsen in the middle. Gerard David and Duncan Oughton complete the back four.
Simon Elliot and Ivan Vicelich form an exciting midfield combination and are will get support on the wings from Mark Burton and Aaran Lines, the latter beating out Noah Hickey for a starting spot.
Up front, the experienced and in-form Australian-based striker Vaughan Coveny partners young Chris Killen, who is also returning to full fitness.
Waitt has targeted the first twenty minutes as crucial for the All Whites chances of winning against the Japans, who are likely to put lots of pressure on the New Zealanders with their fast paced style. Consolidating the pace of the game in that initial period will be the key. The All Whites are also looking at the back as Japan’s probable weakness.
The NZ All Whites to face Japan are:
Michael Utting (GK), Duncan Oughton, Chris Zoricich (Captain), Ryan Nelsen, Gerard Davis, Mark Burton, Simon Elliott, Ivan Vicelich, Aaran Lines, Vaughan Coveny, Chris Killen.
Subs: Jason Batty (GK), Mark Paston (GK), Danny Hay, David Mulligan, Scott Smith, Gavin Wilkinson, Chris Jackson, Raf de Gregorio, Noah Hickey, Michael Wilson, Shane Smeltz, Kris Bouckenooghe.