New Zealand’s national team will be using the upcoming OSN Cup in Saudi Arabia which involves Trinidad and Tobago as preparations for the final stage of their FIFA World Cup qualification intercontinental playoff in November.
This was the impression given by All Whites head coach Ricki Herbert as he spoke on Monday about his team’s participation in the tournament in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia which also involves T&T, United Arab Emirates and the host nation.
T&T faces the UAE on September 5th at the King Fahd International Stadium while New Zealand faces Saudi Arabia but Herbert said his team will actually fancy a match against T&T because of the fact that they face a Concacaf opponent in the World Cup playoff. There is a possibility T&T can face the All Whites in the OSN Cup final or third place match.
“It's important to maximise the time between now and November. These games give us another opportunity to bring the team together in testing conditions." said Herbert who guided New Zealand to an unbeaten run at the 2010 World Cup Finals in South Africa.
"International football is always difficult no matter where you go and to play in the Middle East is tough.The pace and technical ability of all teams at this tournament will be high and that will certainly test us."
"It is a real priority for us to work on the systems that we feel can give us the best possible chance in November and that will influence how we play in this tournament," continued Herbert.
New Zealand are currently ranked 57th in the FIFA World Rankings with Trinidad & Tobago in 78th, UAE in 84th and Saudi Arabia 107th.
The All Whites squad for the OSN Cup 2013 will be named later this week. T&T head coach Stephen Hart will announce his 20-man squad at a press conference at the Hasely Crawford Stadium VIP lounge at 11:30am this Friday.
The tournament will allow Hart the opportunity to look at a few new faces in the squad even though several players from the team that participated at the Concacaf Gold Cup in July will also be involved.
TTFA Technical Director Anton Corneal believes the assignment in Riyadh will be valuable to T&T.
“I thought the performance was credible when you put everything into perspective. We competed very well and we were well organized,” Corneal said in reference to the team’s performance at the Gold Cup.
“We saw the team gelling in such a short space of time. Of course we have some weaknesses we can look at but we have to look at some of the positive things we saw and this is a stage where we can build. We need to build from now. We don’t need to start building next year or the year after.
“We can take time and use some our younger players who have had exposure over the past few years and give them international games so that they can get a feel of what it is to play at the highest level. And we’ve got play the appropriate opponents so it’s not just playing teams in the Caribbean. The tournament in Saudi Arabia is the kind of outings we need to be involved in at this time,” Corneal concluded.