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Posted by Marcus Anselm on 05/02/2010

New Zealand’s back at the World Cup and coach Ricki Herbert has the bulk of his squad already chosen.

As rank outsiders, they’ll be unknown to most of the world.

So who are they?

Ryan Nelsen you know from his exploits with DC United and Blackburn Rovers. However, Rory Fallon and Mark Paston were the two men who grabbed the limelight in the decisive qualifier against Bahrain.

Striker Fallon headed home the only goal of the tie. The Plymouth forward has pedigree – his father Kevin was assistant coach at NZ’s last appearance at this level in 1982, when current boss Herbert played.

Goalkeeper Paston’s penalty save at Wellington earned him national fame and a deserved shot as first choice after good form for the local Phoenix club in the A League. A broken leg ended his season before the yellow and blacks’ play-off run. But he will as first choice after suspension ruled out former club mate Glen Moss, now with Melbourne Victory. Veteran James Ballentyne or Beijing Olympian Jacob Spoonley will be back up.

Fallon and Middlesbrough’s Chris Killen are recognisable to British fans, but Shane Smeltz would be the star man for A-League followers. Smeltz is the competition’s leading striker with 31 goals in the last two seasons for the Phoenix and Gold Coast United.

There’s healthy competition for places up front, further boosted by versatile Olympian Jeremy Brockie (Newcastle Jets), Chris Wood (West Brom) and Costa Barbarouses (Brisbane).
Leo Bertos, Tim Brown and Simon Elliott are the key men in the midfield.

Phoenix winger Bertos can trouble defenders with his pace and trickery and he will look to tee up the supply for the forwards and club colleague Brown. The English-born midfielder has shown a canny knack of ghosting into box to provide some vital headed goals.

Ex Fulham, San Jose and Columbus veteran Elliott - training with Los Angeles Galaxy - can play a holding role, with playmaker Michael McGlinchey, currently on loan at SPL outfit Motherwell, Jeremy Christie and Confederations Cup midfielder Andrew Barron in support.

Nelsen has an equally experienced defensive partner in Ivan Vicelich – NZ’s most capped player. Phoenix duo Ben Sigmund and Tony Lochhead could operate on either flank.
Competition and cover comes from US-based duo Duncan Oughton and Andy Boyens, and two more defenders introducing themselves to New Zealand.

Winston Reid left New Zealand for Denmark in childhood. The Auckland born defender answered Herbert’s call earlier this year. Ipswich Town left-footer Tommy Smith ( with an ‘I) ’debuted against Mexico in Pasadena in March.

Reid and Smith are an almost unknown quantity to Kiwi football fans – just as the All Whites will be to the rest of the world next month.


Comments

Posted by All White on the Night on 05/16/2010

Outsiders, underdogs, whatever you wish to call them i'm sure they will do our country proud. For NZ to develop the sport further and gain respect and interest from the rest of the footballing world we need to get on the world stage.
I'm sure the team will perform to the best of their ability and don't be suprised if we actually win a pool match. Anything is possible as long as you believe. Go the All Whites

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