All Whites coach Anthony Hudson has named his squad for the upcoming FIFA World Cup Russia™ Qualifiers against the Solomon Islands in September.
Winston Reid, who was ruled out of the FIFA Confederations Cup because of knee surgery, returns to captain the side and take part in his first FIFA World Cup qualifying match on 1 September in Auckland.
The West Ham United centre-back will team up with the pairing of the striker Chris Wood and midfielder Ryan Thomas for the first time as New Zealand looks to book their place in the Intercontinental Play-Off in November.
“This is probably our strongest squad and it is great to have Winston back,” said Hudson. “I am pleased because a few years ago the aim was to go into this last stretch [of qualifying] and have everyone available.”
Alongside all of the experience, there are two new faces in the All Whites squad with recent Vancouver Whitecaps signing Myer Bevan and promising goalkeeper Ollie Sail hoping to make their debuts for the national team.
Hudson has been building depth in his squad in the past three years and the centre forward position is the one area that needs the most attention. They have Wood – Golden Boot winner in the Championship last season – and Shane Smeltz, and one or two others of different profile, but they need to continue building depth.
Hudson has been impressed by the 20-year-old Bevan, a recent graduate of the Nike Academy who they have been tracking for some time.
“Myer did really well in the U-20 World Cup and now he is playing professional football and doing well for his club. In our context he deserves a chance. There is a lot that I like about him. Not just as a player, but as a character he has got a great attitude. He is hungry and fearless and I am looking forward to seeing him play,” he said.
“Ollie we know. He has been to a few of our camps since I have been here. He is a good young keeper. We wanted to bring Ollie into our environment and see how he is doing.”
Hudson has had some time to review the team’s effort at the FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia where they lost 2-0 to Russia, 2-1 to Mexico and 4-0 to Portugal. There were a lot of positives and some good periods of attacking play against world class teams, but they have plenty to work on.
“I am incredibly hard on myself and the team. I have a lot of belief in this team and high expectations. I believe that this team could do some really big things and because of that I came away from the Confederations Cup in Russia disappointed,” he said.
“If we tidy a few things up then we could be turning those sorts of performances into results. With a bit of improvement in certain areas we can put ourselves in a position to win against those teams – that is the next step for this team.”
Hudson is looking forward to taking on the Solomon Islands again. At last year’s OFC Nations Cup they dominated the pool match and a Luke Adams goal in the final minutes proved to be the difference for a 1-0 win.
He said the Solomon Islands have some dangerous players.
“We go into this game knowing that it is going to be a challenge but at the same time I expect us to be at our best in terms of where we have been in the last three years. I expect this to be one of biggest performances of the campaign. These games come at a great time for us.”
The All Whites are focused on the OFC Final Stage of Qualifying but all of the team knows how close they are to qualifying for the FIFA World Cup in Russia next year.
“Everyone knows how much hard work has gone into this in the last three years from the players to the coaches and the support staff. There has been a lot of hard graft and miles around the world. These next two games are incredibly important.
“We know the possibility and opportunity after that is a place at the World Cup. We want to follow in the footsteps of the ’82 team and the 2010 team. The incredible, historical moments and everyone who was involved in those teams are heroes now in this country. They are part of the history of football here and we want to put ourselves in that position as well. We want to carry on that legacy.”
Kosta BARBAROUSES Melbourne Victory, Australia, 42 (3)
Myer BEVAN Vancouver Whitecaps, Canada, 0 (0)
Michael BOXALL Minnesota United, USA, 27 (0)
Kip COLVEY San Jose Earthquakes, USA, 11 (0)
Tom DOYLE Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand, 6 (0)
Andrew DURANTE Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand, 20 (0)
Dane INGHAM Brisbane Roar, Australia, 4 (0)
Stefan MARINOVIC Vancouver Whitecaps, Canada, 19 (0)
Michael McGLINCHEY Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand, 48 (4)
Glen MOSS Newcastle Jets, Australia, 29 (0)
Monty PATTERSON Ipswich Town, England, 13 (1)
Winston REID West Ham United, England, 21 (1)
Marco ROJAS SC Heerenveen, Netherlands, 37 (5)
Storm ROUX Central Coast Mariners, Australia, 7 (0)
Oliver SAIL Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand, 0 (0)
Shane SMELTZ Borneo, Indonesia, 57 (24)
Tommy SMITH Ipswich Town, England, 35 (2)
Ryan THOMAS PEC Zwolle, Netherlands, 14 (2)
Themi TZIMOPOULOS PAS Giannina, Greece, 11 (1)
Chris WOOD Leeds United, England, 52 (20)
Deklan WYNNE Vancouver Whitecaps, Canada, 11 (0)