New Zealand will be without Winston Reid for the Oceania Stage 3 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers against New Caledonia later this month in Auckland and Koné but have still named a formidable 23-man squad.
Ryan Thomas (PEC Zwolle, Netherlands), Bill Tuiloma (Olympique Marseille, France) and Glen Moss (Wellington Phoenix) all return to the international fold for the home and away ties in Group A on November 12 and 15.
Reid, who suffered a hamstring injury in West Ham’s loss to Everton in the English Premier League last weekend is the most notable omission in an otherwise full strength squad.
Chris Wood, who has been in goal scoring form for Leeds United in the second tier English Championship, will once again captain the side in Reid’s absence.
New Zealand Head Coach Anthony Hudson was confident that without their inspirational skipper Reid he still had the quality within the squad to perform well against a difficult opposition.
“We have a good squad of players who are more than capable of doing the job for this window,” said Hudson.
“We have built enough depth in our squad over a period time to deal with situations like this. We are comfortable now that we have players who can come in and do a job. We have a very good squad coming to New Zealand and we are looking forward to these games.”
Hudson has been thinking of his first home game in charge for some time and has a quality squad to call on.
“We are very excited,” said Hudson. “It has been a long time and we can’t wait to be training in New Zealand and playing in front of our home fans. It is something that we are really looking forward to.”
The OFC Nations Cup champions face New Caledonia on November 12 at QBE Stadium in Albany and then again on November 15 in the away leg at Stade Yoshida, Koné, in New Caledonia. Hudson knows his side are in for a huge challenge.
“I think they are the best of the island teams. In the last two times the All Whites have played them we won one and they won one, and in that game we weren’t at our best but credit to New Caledonia I thought they were very strong.
In the OFC Nations Cup in Honiara in 2012, before Hudson’s time, the All Whites went down 2-1 in a defining match for the next four years.
“They are a strong team and they have some very, very good individual players, they have some guys playing in Europe and a good European coach,” he said. “It will be a tough game and like any game we will treat them with respect and prepare properly.”
Hudson said it was great to welcome back Thomas, a talented 21-year-old winger who was a late withdrawal from the recent tour of the USA with injury.
“He is a great lad. He is a top footballer. He is a winner, he wants to win at all costs. Really good character and the tours that he has missed he has always been in contact me afterwards and is always sending messages and wants to be part of it. He is dying to be back and be part of it. We are really pleased to have his quality back in the squad.”
Moss, who has played 29 internationals for New Zealand since making his debut in 2006, made a special visit to Auckland to meet with Hudson to tell him how much he wanted to be back in the team.
“It showed how much playing for New Zealand means to him,” he said. “You don’t often get guys flying around the country to sit down and say how much they want to play for New Zealand.
“He has never been out of contention for us. He has always been part of my thinking so we are really pleased to bring back an experienced professional and a good character into the group.”
Hudson said the team is determined to build on their recent tour of the USA where they lost 2-1 to Mexico in Nashville and drew 1-1 with the USA in Washington DC. He has been in regular contact with the team and they cannot wait to play in front of their own fans.
“We have a good squad and a good team and it is good that we are getting together after being together a month ago,” he said. “To be preparing the team in Auckland will be special. Over my time here so many people have told me stories around the All Whites fans and we hope that we will get everyone behind us and start building the momentum for the next 12 months.”
Tahiti and Solomon Islands kick off Stage 3 in Papeete on November 7 (local time) with their Group B return leg in Honiara on November 13.
All Whites squad for New Caledonia fixtures in November
Stefan Marinovic (SpVgg Unterhaching, Germany) 10, 0
Tamati Williams (RKC Waalwijk, Netherlands) 1, 0
Glen Moss (Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand) 29, 0
Andrew Durante (Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand) 11, 0
Bill Tuiloma (Marseille, France) 13, 0
Louis Fenton (Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand) 7, 0
Thomas Doyle (Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand) 3, 0
Michael Boxall (SuperSport Utd, South Africa) 19, 0
Kip Colvey (San Jose Earthquakes FC, USA) 6, 0
Themi Tzimopoulos (PAS Giannina FC, Greece) 8, 1
Deklan Wynne (Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Canada) 4, 0
Liam Graham (Chesterfield FC, England) 2, 0
Clayton Lewis (Auckland City FC, New Zealand) 5, 0
Michael McGlinchey (Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand) 40, 4
Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi (Auckland City FC, New Zealand) 3, 0
Moses Dyer (Eastern Suburbs AFC, New Zealand) 6, 0
Ryan Thomas (PEC Zwolle, Netherlands) 5, 0
Henry Cameron (Blackpool FC, England) 2, 0
Kosta Barbarouses (Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand) 35, 3
Chris Wood (Leeds Utd, England) 44, 18
Monty Patterson (Ipswich Town FC, England) 7, 1
Marco Rojas (Melbourne Victory FC, Australia) 28, 2
Rory Fallon (Truro City FC, England) 24, 6
Story courtesy of New Zealand Football