Football: New Zealand makes major changes for last qualifier
DUNEDIN, New Zealand – With nothing at stake in New Zealand’s final Oceania group World Cup qualifier, Australian-born Andrew Durante has been named among sweeping changes to the squad to play the Solomon Islands.
New Zealand clinched Oceania’s spot in the next round of the World Cup qualifying series with their 2-1 win over New Caledonia in Dunedin on Friday, reducing next Tuesday’s match against the Solomons to a dead rubber.
Although Durante has taken New Zealand citizenship he was excluded from the New Caledonia clash because New Zealand football authorities had not received FIFA confirmation that he met all eligibility criteria.
However, he is “likely to see some time on the pitch” against the Solomon Islands in Honiara, New Zealand Football said in a statement on Saturday.
New All Whites captain Winston Reid, Chris Killen, Michael McGlinchey, Marco Rojas, Shane Smeltz, Tommy Smith, Ivan Vicelich and Chris Wood have all been released from the squad.
“Now the job is done we have an opportunity to replace our injured players and better handle the yellow card situation,” manager Ricki Herbert said.
“We also have a responsibility to manage the workload of our players at this busy time of year with a view to the November playoff matches.”
Oceania, the weakest of the six FIFA confederations, does not have an automatic berth at the 2014 World Cup.
Instead, the top Oceania qualifier faces a two-leg play-off against the fourth-placed Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONACAF) side in November for a place in Brazil.
New Zealand’s CONACAF opponents are yet to be determined.
New Zealand squad: Mark Paston, Aaron Scott, Ben Sigmund, Leo Bertos, Luke Rowe, Jacob Spoonley, Dan Keat, Ian Hogg, Cameron Lindsay, Jeremy Brockie, Kosta Barbarouses, Tim Payne, Aaron Clapham, Andrew Durante.