All Whites coach Danny Hay has explained the rationale behind retiring captain Winston Reid not playing in their first of two games against trans-Tasman rivals Australia.
Reid watched from the couch while the All Whites lost 1-0 at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Thursday In the first meeting between the two nations in over a decade, a 32-minute lightning bolt from Socceroos winger Awer Mabil proves the difference in a tight encounter.
The former West Ham defender has a long history with injuries and Hay said he wanted to save Reid for Sunday’s second game at Eden Park in Auckland to make sure he would have the chance to make one last game ahead of him. New Zealand to play in front of its own audience. .
The matches will be New Zealand’s first All Whites since 2017.
* All whites fall to Australia in highly anticipated trans-Tasman football international
* All Whites star Chris Wood wants regular games against Australia
* ‘A true legend’: All Whites captain Winston Reid retires from international football
Reid announced early in the week that he would be retiring from international service after the home and away games against Australia, marking the curtain on a 12-year career highlighted by his iconic goal against Slovakia at the 2010 World Cup.
“Obviously we rescued a few players that most people recognise, Winston Reid in particular has been rescued and equipped,” Hay said after Thursday’s game.
“He’s a player who doesn’t play regular club football, so clearly he didn’t want to risk him for what will be his retirement game in Auckland.
“It will be a big moment for him and a big moment for his friends and family, and for us because he has been such an integral part of the national team over such a long period.
“He’s one of those iconic players, so we wanted to make sure he was at his best, and hopefully that will be the case.”
Despite only naming six starters from their June World Cup play-off against Costa Rica, the All Whites put up a good fight at Suncorp Stadium, equaling Australia with 12 shots on goal and 50% possession.
They should have opened the scoring in the 10th minute, but Andre de Jong’s shot went wide after being played in by stand-in skipper Chris Wood.
The All Whites were annoyed by that miss when Joe Bell coughed up the ball halfway through as they tried to play out from behind, and Mabil cut in and scored with a spectacular attack from 20 yards away.
“The way the goal is scored is disappointing, but we will continue to encourage the players to do it,” said Hay.
“Things like that are going to happen where Joe Bell is coughing up the ball and of course we’ve been punished for it, but it’s part of the DNA that we’re trying to produce with this team and I thought some of the football tonight was excellent.”
While the All Whites did well against Australia, they have now failed to score in any of their last three games.
Except for De Jong’s miss, their best chances came from Matt Garbett and Tim Payne on the edge of the penalty area.
But none of those attempts seemed to bother Socceroos goalkeeper Mat Ryan.
“We need to get a lot more clinical in the attacking third and that’s just something we’re working on and developing, and it’s going to happen over time,” Hay lamented.
“We created some chances, but I think the majority of the chances Australia created were generally due to our mistakes.”