Emblen to build on young All Whites promise

IAN ANDERSON
Last updated 05:00 27/05/2014
Neil Emblen
LAWRENCE SMITH/Fairfax NZ
NEW HOPES: Coach Neil Emblen.

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Further progress from their last 60 minutes of international football is what All Whites coach Neil Emblen seeks from his troops on Friday.

Emblen will field a young, inexperienced team against a raw South Africa side at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland.

A number of the country's best players - including English-based professionals Winston Reid, Tommy Smith and Chris Wood - won't be turning out for the national team.

But that hasn't bothered Emblen much as he aims to improve on the All Whites' 4-2 loss to Japan in Tokyo in March.

"You've got to be positive about the fixture," Emblen said.

"We're looking to learn a lot about the next group of players. I think we played some good stuff against Japan in the last 60 minutes, so we'll be looking to build on that."

New Zealand fell 4-0 behind in just 16 minutes against a classy Japanese side, before Emblen made some tactical adjustments that brought about notable improvement, which was rewarded with two goals from Wood.

"I like the way we finished there," Emblen said.

"We went out quite attacking with a 4-1-3-2 formation and we got found out early doors - maybe we were a bit too open - but from 30 minutes onwards we went with a 4-1-4-1 and that looked quite exciting.

"That formation worked for us - we beat them 2-0 with that formation. We have players that can get forward on the counter-attack and also players that know their jobs and responsibilities defensively."

Emblen said he wants to utilise the attacking abilities of young stars like Marco Rojas and Ryan Thomas as the national side endeavours to play more possession football.

"The country's producing better technical players - they're growing up with more touches on the ball and programmes are being put in place to help young players' technical ability now," He said.

"Our strengths will be trying to keep the ball and get it to the exciting young players that will be able to cause problems.

"I think we have a new qualifying campaign to look forward to as well. A lot of these players getting opportunities are very young and it's a chance to see if they can be part of the process of trying to qualify for [the World Cup in] Russia in 2018.

"That's got to be the focus now - that and the Confederations Cup. They're the main aims now for the next few years and we've got to start building and seeing how players cope at this level."

Emblen was to watch South Africa in action last night against Australia but doesn't want to focus a great deal on his opposition.

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"I want it to be a lot about how we approach the game.

"You don't have a massive amount of time together, but we'll have two educational days on Tuesday and Wednesday when we'll work on the team structure and shape and how we are going to play."

Emblen has been installed as an interim coach following Ricki Herbert's departure after last year's failed World Cup qualifying campaign, but he didn't want to approach Friday's match as a trial for the fulltime job.

"The way I look at it is that I'm doing the job now," he said.

"If anybody else is going to come in, I want to be doing the right job now and picking the right players and the right style to play.

"People say it's like having an actual physical interview for the role, but there's lot of aspects that will come into the appointment and I'm just happy to be given this opportunity." 

- Stuff

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