In front of a crowd of 9,266 fans, the home side produced a composed display in possession in the opening 45 minutes as they built on the foundation of their showing in Japan in March.
The best chance for Neil Emblen’s team fell to Wellington Phoenix striker Tyler Boyd but the youngster could only find the side netting after a lightening counter attack.
But with fatigue setting in during the second period, with a number of players well into their off-season, the New Zealand side struggled to impose themselves on their opponents as they had in the first period.
Yet they were still able to carve out their best opportunity in the second stanza as Wellington Phoenix striker Tyler Boyd fired a low shot against the side netting of the South African goal after a lightening quick counter attack from the home side.
Earlier, VfB Stuttgart striker Marco Rojas and Dutch Cup Final winner Ryan Thomas (PEC Zwolle) had the best of the opportunities for the All Whites in the first period; Rojas dragging his left-footed effort wide of the upright while Thomas stretched unsuccessfully to turn in a Boyd cross.
Defensively, Neil Emblen’s side worked hard to keep their clean sheet with Michael Boxall’s performance at centre back a highlight as the Wellington Phoenix defender turned in a strong effort in and out of possession.
After the match, Emblen spoke proudly of a team which stuck to task despite tiring legs as the game wore on.
“I was generally pleased with the way we played,” Emblen said. “I thought we came up against a very good South African team who moved the ball brilliantly well at times.
“That’s something we’re trying to emulate with our boys so it was a great experience.
“First half I thought we looked dangerous and we managed to play through [the thirds] a few times.”
“It’s hard at this level to get perfect football through the thirds especially when in the second half we’re fatigued and we’re trying to play the same way.
“I’d like to think that if the boys had been in the middle of their own seasons we’d have been able to have sustained it for a lot longer but there were still signs there of little one-twos and cleverness around the box and it was just really the final ball at times that was missing in the first half.”
Asked how he felt he has impacted the team since serving as interim coach for the two 2014 internationals, Emblen highlighted the growing confidence in his side with the ball at their feet.
“I try to give them the freedom to express themselves and you can see that the players are trying to get on the ball and make things happen.
“We didn’t make too many blatant errors of giving the ball away overplaying. And that’s what I think we learned. We don’t think we gave South Africa too many chances through our misdoings.”
Four players made their All Whites debuts in Friday’s match as Jason Hicks, Matthew Ridenton, James Musa and goalkeeper Tamati Williams all made second half substitute appearances.
Ridenton followed in the footsteps of his father, Michael, who played 14 times for New Zealand between 1988 and 1995.
New Zealand 0
South Africa 0
New Zealand: 1. Glen Moss GK – 12. Tamati Williams 87’), 6. Bill Tuiloma (26. James Musa 70’), 7. Tyler Boyd, 8. Michael McGlinchey, 11. Marco Rojas (23. Matt Ridenton 78’), 13. Chris James (16. Jeremy Brockie 70’), 14. Ryan Thomas (25. Jason Hicks 70’), 15. Storm Roux, 18. Tim Payne, 19. Michael Boxall, 22. Andrew Durante (21. Cameron Howieson 75’)
Substitute not used: 24. Luke Adams
Reproduced with kind permission by New Zealand Football Media
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