N. Zealand World Cup squad reunites for friendly

WELLINGTON – New Zealand’s World Cup squad will reunite for a friendly against Honduras in Auckland this Saturday, giving home fans their first a chance to celebrate the team’s achievements in South Africa.

By (AFP)

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Published: Sat 9 Oct 2010, 2:09 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 4:34 AM

The All Whites were the surprise package at the tournament, entering ranked a lowly 78th in the world but finishing as the only unbeaten team after draws in the group stage against defending champions Italy, as well as Slovakia and Paraguay.

Coach Ricki Herbert has selected all available players from the World Cup squad for Saturday’s match, describing it as a reward for their efforts.

“It was of paramount importance that we give those players who went to South Africa a chance to thank the public for the overwhelming support,” he said.

New Zealand rose to 49th in the rankings as a result of the team’s South African exploits, boosting the sport’s popularity in a nation where rugby union is the dominant code.

Captain Ryan Nelsen said New Zealand football had to build on the credibility achieved at the World Cup but would face tough opposition against Honduras and in another friendly against Paraguay next Tuesday.

“We could actually go out and play Honduras and Paraguay and get beaten 4-0, that could actually happen because these guys are really good,” he said.

“People would criticise, we’d get rubbished and all that, but a year ago people would have gone ‘well that’s the New Zealand All Whites’—that’s what success does.”

They will face a Honduras side rebuilding after the World Cup, where the central Americans showed defensive prowess but failed to score in a tough group that included eventual champions Spain, Chile and Switzerland.

New coach Juan de Dios Castillo has not brought European-based stars such as Tottenham’s Wilson Palacios and David Sauzo of Inter Milan to Auckland, instead relying mainly on domestic league players.

Since the World Cup, Honduras have lost one friendly to Canada 2-1 and won another against arch-rival El Salvador on penalties after scores were locked at 2-2 at the final whistle.

All Whites defender Winston Reid, who grew up in Demark, said he was relishing his first appearance on a New Zealand football pitch since he was eight years old.

“Hopefully we can just continue to improve what we did at the World Cup, to build on what we did as a team and as a nation,” he said.

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