Myanamar v New Zealand
Sep 7th 2015
This week is a FIFA international week and New Zealand have got a game!
In December last year, New Zealand coach Anthony Hudson said “As we’ve outlined earlier, to create a team capable of reaching the 2018 World Cup in Russia and achieving there, we need to be playing and building experience against quality teams which could form part of our pathway to the tournament,”
Now for some reason NZ Football decided that our pathway would be via Asia, now while this would have been the preferable option, the decision was to be made by a draw by the confederations that have a half place, Oceania, Asia, CONCACAF & COMMEBOL, so Asia was a 1 in 3 chance and Oceania ended up with the most difficult pathway of COMMEBOL (South America)
But NZ Football had been hoping for Asia so was focusing on Asian teams. This meant a game against South Korea in March, which was good as they are a quality team and a young NZ side went down 1-0 to a late goal.
Then in July High Performance Director, Fred de Jong said "We're delighted to have secured another opponent from the strong Asian Confederation for the Fifa window in September," and who would this be? Japan?, Australia?, Iran? No it was to be the mighty Myanmar!
Alarm bells should be ringing when the high performance director of NZ Football describes the Asia confederation as strong, based on being in Oceania he is correct but then all confederations are strong compared to Oceania! Asia is on a par with CONCACAF and below Africa and well below COMMEBOL and UEFA. So if we are going for a strong Asian nation how on earth do you explain Myanmar? Currently ranked 162 that's 27 places below New Zealand!
Still that should give New Zealand a good chance of winning, shouldn't it?
A New Zealand win, its been a while, actually when they kick off in Yangoon on the 7th September it will be 2 years and 1 day exactly since their last win, 1-0 over Saudi Arabia in Riyadh.
Since then they have played 12 games, drawn 5, lost 7 and acquired a new manager.
Anthony Hudson came from nowhere, well OK he had been in Bahrain, where he had done well with their U23's. He comes from footballing pedigree, his father Alan played for Chelsea and he had been likened to young Jose Murinho by Harry Redknapp whom he worked with at Tottenham (although it's debatable if that's a good thing!).
Hudson can talk the talk. When he arrived many of the things he said make sense, the All Whites did need a shake up with some players getting to comfortable and more depth was needed so there is genuine competition for places.
He has now called up 38 players for the 4 games he has been in charge, off this squad 6 are new names, while another 6 have only 1 cap. There may be a strategy behind this but it does seem to be a bit of a scattergun approach. It's fine identifying potential NZ players (and with the ineligibility saga could possibly be needed!) but immediately calling them up? Benjamin Van Der Broek has just signed for Barrow, in the 5th tier of English football hardly the level of an international footballer, likewise was Kane Vincent worthy of a cap just because he played in Thailand. But with a scattergun approach you can always unearth gems and while its early on, the commentator challenging, Themistoklos Tzimipolous, looks promising.
Hudson has also expressed his frustration at not being able to name a full strength squad, but at the same time has opted not to call up the on-form Chris Wood of Leeds, Tommy Smith of Ipswich and Ryan Thomas of Zwolle in the Netherlands. You can't have it both ways and does seem to be an attempt at getting his excuses in early.
How seriously Myanmar will be taking only the second visit of a country from outside the Asian Confederation (the other was East Germany in 1963) is questionable, given that they are playing Kuwait in Kuwait in a world cup qualifier on Thursday and have a 9 hour flight back to meet NZ on Monday, but maybe they will be spurred on to get revenge for the 5-1 drubbing the U20's gave them at the world cup.
This really is a must win game for Hudson and NZ, he's talked the talk for a year now its time to deliver. If we don't get a result from this game some serious questions need to be asked.
At the time of writing this there is still no word on whether or not this will be on TV - Another question that needs to be answered by NZ Football
C'mon the All Whites