New Zealand retain squad for Bahrain play-off


Wellington : New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert has made no changes in the 18-man squad for the critical World Cup qualifying play-off against Bahrain here slated for Nov 14.

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Announcing his squad Thursday, he named the same players who made up the team that fought for a goalless draw in the first contest between the Oceania and Asian federation contenders in Manama on October 10.

New Zealand and Bahrain will play for a place at the World Cup finals in South Africa next year.

A record crowd for a football match in New Zealand of 35,000 is expected to watch the hosts bid to play in the finals for the first time since 1982.

Herbert said there were no injuries or medical concerns in the squad, with captain Ryan Nelsen reported to have avoided the swine flu that struck three of his teammates in the English club Blackburn Rovers.

Striker Rory Fallon was also recovering well from a calf injury that saw him leave the field near the end of the first half of his side Plymouth Argyle’s game against Ipswich Town last weekend, Herbert said.

New Zealand must win next month’s play-off to ensure qualification for South Africa while Bahrain will go forward if goals are scored in another draw under the away goals rule.

If the match ends up 0-0 again, 30 minutes of extra time will be played followed by a penalty shootout if it remains scoreless.

New Zealand Squad:

Goalkeepers: James Bannatyen (Team Wellington), Mark Paston (Wellington Phoenix)

Defenders: Andrew Boyens (New York Red Bulls), Tony Lochhead (Wellington Phoenix), David Mulligan (Wellington Phoenix), Ryan Nelsen (Captain, Blackburn Rovers), Aaron Scot (Waitakere United), Ben Sigmund (Wellington Phoenix), Ivan Vicelich (Auckland City)

Midfielders: Andy Barron (Team Wellington), Leo Bertos (Wellington Phoenix), Tim Brown(Wellington Phoenix), Simon Elliott (San Jose Earthquakes), Michael McGlinchey (Central Coast Mariners)

Forwards: Rory Fallon (Plymouth Argyle), Chris Killen (Celtic), Shane Smeltz (Gold Coast United), Chris Wood (West Bromwich Albion)