The All Whites’ blunt attack ahead of the 2017 Confederations Cup must be a concern for coach Anthony Hudson and his brains trust.
The New Zealand side has now failed to score across 180 minutes of international football, following their 1-0 loss to Belarus in Minsk on Tuesday morning.
While Hudson’s primary focus will be on his defensive systems ahead of the big test against Russia on Sunday morning (NZT) there is nothing like a goal or two to get confidence and belief flowing through a team.
Sure, they banked five against Cabinteely FC, but that game – while important for match fitness and combinations – isn’t particularly relevant, as it was an Irish second division team in their off season.
The All Whites were held scoreless against Northern Ireland – though Kosta Barabarouses was unlucky to hit the post – and couldn’t find the net again this morning, mustering just three shots in total.
Hopefully it was just a poor dress rehearsal but it’s a slightly worrying sign. The Belarus coach made nine changes after their World Cup qualifying victory over Bulgaria a few days earlier, so the White Wings were without a lot of first choice players.
It was a time to take advantage but the All Whites couldn’t do it.
This current buildup is in stark contrast to the matches before the 2009 Confederations Cup, when the All Whites lost to Italy 4-3 (after leading midway through the second half) and also scored against Tanzania (1-2) along with a 0-0 draw with Botswana.
The warm-up matches ahead of the 2010 World Cup also revealed more of a cutting edge. Back then the New Zealand side banked a famous 1-0 win over Serbia in Klagenfurt, book ended by a 2-1 loss to the Socceroos in Melbourne and a 3-1 defeat in Slovenia.
Tuesday’s match was also notable for the continued absence of Storm Roux. The Central Coast Mariners captain was recalled from the international wilderness to make the Confederations Cup squad, but didn’t take the field in either Belfast or Minsk.
It would indicate that Kip Colvey – who started both matches – has the inside running for Sunday’s match in St Petersburg, with teenager Dane Ingham as the back-up. But Hudson is likely to rotate his wing backs across the tournaments, as they face the greatest physical demands under his system and it would be unrealistic for one player to complete three games in nine days.
Source : New Zealand Herald