All Whites counting their lucky stars vs Mexico

SAM WORTHINGTON
Last updated 05:00 03/11/2013
Ricki Herbert
Photosport
TOUGH JOB: Ricki Herbert his trying the lead the All Whites to next year's football World Cup in Brazil.

Relevant offers

Football

Manchester City Abu Dhabi trip not behind FA Cup exit - Manuel Pellegrini Leading Premier League sides rolled in FA Cup Auckland City lose 'potwasher' Emiliano Tade to pro team Second-tier Blackburn shock Swansea City in FA Cup Sydney FC end mid-season drought in fine style Adelaide United destroy hapless Newcastle Jets 7-0 in A-League Team Wellington target defence as they aim to stay top of ASB Premiership Hay: Wellington Phoenix need Nathan Burns to win A-League title Embarrassing draw for Manchester United at Cambridge Senegal poised for spot in Nations Cup top eight

The All Whites have been given a leg-up in their bid to reach consecutive World Cups, with Mexico's new coach snubbing his European stars for this month's playoffs.

What had appeared a mission impossible for Ricki Herbert's men is now looking slightly less daunting after Miguel Herrera yesterday named a squad picked entirely from domestic Mexican players.

It is the ultimate dodged bullet for the All Whites, who no longer have to worry about gun Manchester United goalscorer Javier Hernandez and Villarreal stars Giovani dos Santos and Javier Aquino.

Instead Herrera - Mexico's fourth coach in two months - has opted for 10 players from his champion club America.

His theory is that the European stars would not have enough time to adapt to his preferred 5-3-2 setup ahead of the first leg at Mexico City's imposing Estadio Azteca.

"It is not that they are bad, they are very good players, but the trip is very taxing and arriving on November 7, 8 or 9 to play on the 13th [14th NZT], they won't finish adapting to the situation that we are looking for," Herrera said.

It really is an extraordinary situation; akin to Herbert leaving out Winston Reid, Marco Rojas and Chris Wood.

But Mexico's domestic players are no mugs and they outclassed Finland 4-2 in a friendly in San Diego last Thursday.

Herbert was in the stands at Qualcomm Stadium, and said Mexico played an attacking brand of football.

"It has been a turbulent time for them but the game was about breaking the shackles and getting their supporters back on board with the team," Herbert said.

"They looked very, very good, especially on attack."

Herbert names his squad tomorrow with Rojas (foot) and Shane Smeltz (hip) expected to be included after recovering from injury.

Olympic Marseille youth player Bill Tuiloma will be included after impressing on debut in last month's draw with Trinidad and Tobago.

But Herbert is unlikely to thrust the wingback into the fray in front of 100,000-plus fans, with the Phoenix's Leo Bertos and the club-less Tony Lochhead expected to fill those roles.

Glen Moss will start in goal, with Reid, Tommy Smith and Andrew Durante the three centre backs.

Michael McGlinchey will be one of the central midfielders, with Ivan Vicelich his likely partner.

Up front Wood is the probable targetman, with Kosta Barbarouses and Jeremy Brockie capable of offering support as well as tracking back in defence.

Ad Feedback

Rojas and Smeltz may have bigger roles to play in the return leg in Wellington on November 20 if the All Whites can keep the tie alive in Mexico City.

- Sunday Star Times

Special offers
Opinion poll

Will Burnley retain their EPL status?

Yes, they've found a winning formula

Maybe, but there’s a long way to go

No. They lack quality in certain areas

Vote Result

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content