The All Whites’ next opponents, The Gambia, are targeting international friendlies to continue their rise in FIFA’s world rankings.
By winning four of their last six matches since March, the African nation have moved from 172nd to 148th in FIFA’s long list of football-playing nations.
Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet – already The Gambia’s most successful national team coach – has been carefully selecting opponents to raise the profile of his team which has this year qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time.
New Zealand will play The Gambia — known as the Scorpions – at the Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium, Dubai, on Wednesday November 17 (5am kick off, NZT).
All Whites coach Danny Hay is keen to maintain the momentum achieved by his side’s October wins against Curaçao and Bahrain.
“These games will be another good test for us. It also gives us another opportunity to acclimatise to the conditions in the Middle East ahead of potential OFC games here,” Hay says.
Hay expects his squad for the November international window will again comprise players drawn from the northern hemisphere, with Australian and New Zealand-based players unable to participate due to travel and quarantine difficulties.
New Zealand Football will soon announce a warm-up game to be played on Saturday November 13 (NZT), against yet-to-be-named opponents.
Photo: The Scorpions (courtesy of Gambia Football Federation)
The Gambia’s recent results
March 25: Gambia 1 Angola 0 (African Cup of Nations qualifier)
March 29: DR Congo 1 Gambia 0 (African Cup of Nations qualifier)
June 5: Niger 0 Gambia 2 (friendly)
June 8: Gambia 1 Togo 0 (friendly)
June 11: Kosovo 1 Gambia 0 (friendly)
October 12: Gambia 2 South Sudan 1 (friendly)