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Herbert: 'We'll be All White'
New Zealand coach says he has the measure of Bahrain for football World Cup playoff.
Last Modified: 29 Sep 2009 06:09 GMT

Captain Ryan Nelsen is New Zealand's only big-league player [GALLO/GETTY]
Coach Ricki Herbert believes his New Zealand side have the measure of Bahrain ahead of their first World Cup playoff in Manama.

New Zealand have chosen a 19-man squad, captained by Blackburn Rovers defender Ryan Nelsen, for preparations in Dubai before flying out to the Arabian Gulf island for the first leg on October 10.

And Herbert believes Bahrain showed their hand in their stellar performance against regional giants Saudi Arabia, giving him all the ammunition he needs to take the All Whites to their first World Cup in 28 years.

The deciding leg is in Wellington on November 14.

Fresh information

"Bahrain had to put their best foot forward against Saudi Arabia so that information is fresh and current," Herbert said on Tuesday.

"We've broken down that information and will roll it out to the players.

"We're pretty comfortable....as soon as we hit that first training session in Dubai we'll be rolling out what we think is going to be important for the first game."

With no high-quality domestic league of their own, the bulk of New Zealand's squad play in the Australian A-League, with six coming from the Wellington Phoenix.

The squad also includes a handful of players with European experience, including Celtic striker Chris Killen, who scored twice in a friendly against world champions Italy this year, and teenage striker Chris Wood, who plays for West Bromwich Albion in the English second tier.

Nelsen is their only English Premier League player.

New Zealand have not qualified for the World Cup since 1982 but advanced to a two-leg playoff against Bahrain, who beat Saudi Arabia to finish as the fifth-placed country in Asia, after easily winning the Oceania qualifying phase.

Traditional Oceania powerhouse Australia have switched to the Asian confederation.

New Zealand squad:

Goalkeepers - James Bannatyne (Team Wellington), Mark Paston (Wellington Phoenix), Jacob Spoonley (Auckland City)

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

Midfielders - Andy Barron (Team Wellington), Leo Bertos, Tim Brown (both 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).

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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