New Zealand came into the OSN Cup hoping to build on the recent success that the team has achieved since the 2010 World Cup. They have qualified for the final round of play-offs for the 2014 World Cup.
They will possibly face the likes of Mexico or Honduras in this round. They are extremely close to reaching the second consecutive World Cup. Ahead of the first friendly match with Saudi Arabia, national team coach Ricki Herbert said that he was going to try out a few things in the hope of preparing for the World Cup.
They managed to win the first match against Saudi Arabia 1-0, which helped him progress into the final of the OSN Cup. However, a 2-0 defeat at the hands of UAE, who are ranked 84th in the world, has left Herbert with more questions than answers. Herbert, though, choose to remain positive because this was the first match that his team was playing since March. The temperatures were also extremely high to what New Zealand have been used to. Despite the setback, he believes that New Zealand will be able to show the kind of form that has seen them go on an unbeaten run for a long time when they take on a CONCAF region team in the play-offs in November.
”We were just half a yard short tonight. Not as clinical up front and we probably didn’t defend as well as a team. A couple of sloppy goals really. We’ve tried a back four and I’m still not convinced. I think a true test is the ability to stay consistent. Certainly going to into the World Cup, leading into South Africa and then being undefeated, showed the stability of the back three. We could consistently roll out performances that were good enough to get results,” said Herbert.