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All Whites down Oman

New Zealand captain Chris Wood scored what proved to be the winner in the fifth minute as the All Whites tasted victory for the first time in 13 matches since a 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia in September 2013.
Four players made their senior debut in the All Whites’ final match of 2015 as Henry Cameron and Sam Brotherton started the game while second half substitutes Logan Rogerson and Te Atawhai-Hudson Wihongi also recorded their first senior cap.
Blackpool FC teenager Cameron made a bright beginning to life as an All White, his energy and thrust creating the first scoring chance for Wood in behind the Oman defense in the fifth minute.
The All Whites’ captain was released into the area and the Leeds United striker composed himself before curling an excellent finish beyond Oman goalkeeper and captain Ali Al Habsi.
The home side – unbeaten in five 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers this year – responded to going behind, increasing their tempo in possession and created several scoring chances without profiting.
Ahmed Mubarek and Saad Suhail both squandered good opportunities with clear sights of Stefan Marinovic’s goal in the first 15 minutes but from there the All Whites defensive unit settled and did well during the rest of the first period, despite the hosts controlling possession for large periods, to limit clear scoring chances.
With time winding down in the first 45 minutes, Cameron’s debut was cut short due to injury with the teenager stretchered off and he was replaced by Alex Rufer.
The second half saw the tempo slow as Hudson’s side retained their compact defensive shape, limiting the hosts to largely shooting chances from distance while their periods of possession early in the period saw the New Zealanders remain patient and look to move the ball and their opponents from flank to flank.
Already a U-17 and U-23 representative this year, Rogerson became the third player to make his All Whites debut midway through the half, replacing Clayton Lewis in the 67th minute before Auckland City’s Hudson-Wihongi entered the fray for Marco Rojas in the final 10 minutes for his first senior action.
Although the hosts pressed for an equaliser in the final stages, the All Whites stood firm and prevent any clear scoring chances to secure a memorable win for the New Zealand side.
Hudson says the result was earned on the back of a performance which stuck to task over the course of the 90 minutes.
“It was a big performance because we only had a couple of days on the training pitch,” Hudson says.
“I think the key was us trying to progress what we were doing but also having a real basic game plan to stay in the game as long possible because we knew coming here against team unbeaten at home it was going to very tough.
“Overall I’m very pleased with the performance.”
Hudson hailed the effort of the young contingent of the side as three age-group internationals from 2015 made their debuts in the victory.
“I think one or two of our players have probably got their chance a little bit sooner because we’ve had a lot of injuries. Every time they’ve stepped up they’ve handled the occasion very well.
“It’s another real step forward in their progression and we’ve added a few more players to what we’re doing in terms of experience.”
Hudson added the result is a boost for a team continuing to work towards their first 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in 2016.
“I think we showed a lot of character tonight and we took a step forward in terms of togetherness.
“The bigger picture has always been we are preparing for the Nations Cup and this will give us confidence we can go to a team that’s one of the best in West Asia and get a result.”
New Zealand 1-0 Oman (half: 1-0)
NZL: Chris Wood 5’
OMN: –
New Zealand: 25. Stefan Marinovic (GK), 4. Themi Tzimopoulos, 5. Michael Boxall, 6. Clayton Lewis (24. Logan Rogerson 67’), 8. Michael McGlinchey, 9. Chris Wood, 11. Marco Rojas (15. Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi 80’), 14. Ryan Thomas, 16. Louis Fenton, 17. Sam Brotherton, 20. Henry Cameron (18. Alex Rufer 42’)
Substitutes not used: 12. Max Crocombe (GK), 19. Thomas Doyle, 21. Nik Tzanev (GK),
Injured: Kosta Barbarouses
Coach: Anthony Hudson
Story courtesy of New Zealand Football

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