New Zealand’s World Cup preparation steps up a gear this week with a ‘friendly’ against Australia in Melbourne.
It’s a great warm up for the All Whites.
The Socceroos will provide a similar level of competition as group opponents Slovakia and Paraguay – with the traditional sporting rivalries adding to the spectacle.
The World Cup squad crosses ‘the ditch’ before moving on to their European training base, and ultimately South Africa.
Ricki Herbert finalised his squad in early May after a 10 day camp for Kiwi players not involved in league football elsewhere.
The major beneficiaries of the get together were Jeremy Christie and Aaron Clapham.
Midfielder Christie, now at Tampa Bay, persuaded Ricki Herbert of his claims ahead of striker Costa Barbarouses and utility Duncan Oughton.
Clapham, with local part-timers Canterbury, adds to the NZ stocks on the right flank, also offering a playmaking option.
The trans-Tasman affair will also give an indication if Herbert will persist with the 3-4-3 formation from the Bahrain play offs.
The structure allowed Herbert to field his three front line strikers, Shane Smeltz, Chris Killen and Rory Fallon, with Leo Bertos acting as a right wing back.
However, the forthcoming opposition will be far tougher than the Bahraini’s lightweight attack.
With that in mind, Killen or Fallon could make way for a third central midfielder, while Winston Reid likely to make his All Whites debut - at some point - in defence.
However the All Whites line up, the match will be an intriguing test of their World Cup credentials.
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