Striker Chris Wood gets another chance to close in on the mantle of New Zealand’s most prolific goalscorer when the All Whites play two games in Dubai during the November international window.
NZ Football have confirmed two matches for the national squad:
- Saturday November 13 (5am, NZT) v Algeria XI
- Wednesay November 17 (5am, NZT) v The Gambia
Both games will be played at Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium, Dubai.
Wood has so far found the net 25 times in his 59 appearances for the All Whites and is nearing the 29-goal record set by Vaughan Coveny before his international retirement in 2006.
The opening game is against the Algerian side assembled for the FIFA Arab Cup which is due to start at the end of November and does not count as a full-cap international.
It will help prepare the All Whites for their full international against The Gambia, a side that’s rising up the FIFA rankings and has qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time.
Head coach Danny Hay says the games are important opportunities to develop the All Whites as a team, building on their wins against Curaçao and Bahrain in the October window.
“As good as it is to get two wins in the October window, the performance level is what pleased me the most. This should now be seen as the minimum we expect going forward,” Hay says.
“Playing a warm up game like this is especially useful as it allows us to try out a few different options which is critical ahead of our World Cup qualification campaign.
“The more time we can have together the better, so the time in camp to continue to build the culture and bonds in the squad is really important.”
Photo: Chris Wood (image courtesy of Shane Wenzlick | Phototek).
NZ Football is trying to establish how New Zealanders will be able to view coverage of the games as they will not be available through Sky Sports.
Online streaming is being considered as an option.
All Whites squad
Stefan Marinovic (26 Caps) Hapoel Nof HaGalil, Israel; Jamie Searle (0 Caps) Swansea City, Wales; Michael Woud (3 Caps) Almere City FC, Netherlands; Michael Boxall (35 Caps) Minnesota United, USA; Liberato Cacace (5 Caps) Sint-Truidense VV, Belgium; Francis De Vries (0 Caps) IFK Värnamo, Sweden; Kelvin Kalua (2 Caps) Eastern Suburbs, New Zealand (currently on trial in Europe); Niko Kirwan (2 Caps) Padova, Italy; Nando Pijnaker (3 Caps) FC Helsingør (loan from Rio Ave FC), Denmark; Tommy Smith (40 Caps) Colchester United, England; Joe Bell (4 Caps) Viking FK, Norway; Matthew Garbett (2 Caps) Torino, Italy; Sarpreet Singh (7 Caps) SSV Jahn Regensburg (loan from FC Bayern Münich), Germany; Marko Stamenic (2 Caps) HB Køge (on loan from FC Copenhagen), Denmark; Joseph Champness (1 Cap) Giresunspor, Turkey; Elliot Collier (2 Caps) Chicago Fire, USA; Andre de Jong (6 Caps) AmaZulu FC, South Africa; Elijah Just (4 Caps) FC Helsingør, Denmark; Callum McCowatt (3 Caps) FC Helsingør, Denmark; Chris Wood (59 Caps) Burnley FC, England.
Withdrawn due to injury: Bill Tuiloma (27 Caps) Portland Timbers, USA
Unavailable: Winston Reid but he will train with the squad and will mentor younger members of the squad.