New Zealand recently secured qualification to the inter-continental playoff series, which will take place on November, as a result of the 2-1 win over New Caledonia. As a result, their final group match against Solomon Islands is regarded as a dead rubber.
It is highly expected that New Zealand manager Ricki Herbert will rest most of his players for this meaningless match. This is not the first time he will be facing such a situation. New Zealand qualified with games to spare in the 2008 season as well. Back then, Herbert decided to rest at least nine players from the starting line-up.
This is expected to be the case once again because the manager has suggested that he will be resting a number of key players, while also choosing to omit players who are on a yellow card. The team has 10 players who are just one yellow card away from suspension. If they receive a booking in this meaningless match against Solomon Islands, then it would mean missing a key player for the intercontinental play-offs. New Zealand could face a team from North America, Caribbean, or Central America in this match.
A couple of New Zealand players also received bookings in the match against Caledonia, which will rule them out of the Solomon Islands encounter.
“I will sit down with Fred and we will look very closely at what we think are the right decisions to make, right across the group. I’ve said to New Zealand [Football], we’ve got to keep growing this group. I’m trying to get a game myself, [so] probably only three,” said New Zealand manager Herbert. New Zealand have been on a real good run of form since June. The 1-1 draw with China in a friendly match is the only match that they have not won during this period.