By Daniel Richardson
Shane Smeltz was upbeat about what lies ahead when he spoke after training yesterday. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Playing in the awful 5-1 loss to Mexico was enough for the All Whites. They haven’t watched a replay as they build towards tomorrow’s second leg of their playoff in Wellington.
Last week’s hammering at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City didn’t make pretty viewing and All Whites midfielder Chris James, who scored New Zealand’s only goal with a late left-foot strike, said they did not need to relive it as part of their analysis for the return fixture.
“I don’t need to watch the match, I think there’s a lot of lads who probably think like that as well,” he said. “I think it was very clear for everyone to see what the problems were for us, so going over it and watching it wouldn’t change anything in our heads.
“We know exactly what’s gone wrong and we know how to put that right so that’s the intention of the lads at the moment, to do that in the next game. But also have that positivity that we need to go out and score as many goals as we can.”
Poor marking at set pieces, a lack of composure on the ball and the tendency to defend too deep were all key problems for the All Whites. Changing that in the space of a few days won’t be easy but the All Whites aren’t lacking in confidence.
James, alongside Jeremy Brockie, Shane Smeltz and young defender Storm Roux all fronted the media yesterday and spoke with a notably upbeat demeanour despite their dire situation.
In the past few days, many of the players have noted that “stranger things have happened” in football than the possibility of New Zealand winning 4-0 tomorrow.
All Whites coach Ricki Herbert has settled on his starting line-up for tomorrow night’s match.
Herbert is set to revert to a straight back four with Storm Roux to debut at right back and Bill Tuiloma to play just his second international at left back.
Game one goal scorer Chris James earns a start alongside Michael McGlinchey in midfield, and with goals needed, Marco Rojas, Shane Smeltz, Kosta Barbarouses and Jeremy Brockie will all start.
(4-4-2): Glen Moss, Storm Roux, Andrew Durante, Tommy Smith (c), Bill Tuiloma, Marco Rojas, Michael McGlinchey, Chris James, Kosta Barbarouses, Jeremy Brockie, Shane Smeltz. – Newstalk Zb
The New Zealand Herald