New Zealand picked two rookies in a 23-man squad for its first soccer World Cup in 28 years.
Aaron Clapham, the player of the year in the New Zealand Football Championship, and Denmark-based Winston Reid join a roster that includes 17 of the 18 players who beat Bahrain in a playoff to seal a spot at the 32-team event that starts June 11.
“Aaron has come in to this group and looked very comfortable,” New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert said in a statement. “I’m not one to usually have sleepless nights but this has been a very difficult job settling on the final pieces of the jigsaw.”
Reid is one of seven Europe-based players in the squad. It also includes six players from the Herbert-coached Wellington Phoenix, who this year reached the playoffs in Australia’s A- League for the first time. Blackburn Rovers defender Ryan Nelsen will captain the team in South Africa.
The squad will assemble May 19 in Auckland before traveling to Melbourne three days later for a match against Australia on May 24. The All Whites will then head to Austria for a pre-World Cup training camp and tune-up games against fellow finalists Serbia and Slovenia.
New Zealand opens its campaign June 15 against Slovakia and will also play defending champion Italy and Paraguay in South Africa.
World Cup teams have until midnight Zurich time tomorrow to provide world governing body FIFA with a list of up to 30 players. The number must be cut to 23 by midnight June 1.
NEW ZEALAND SQUAD: James Bannatyne - Team Wellington, Andy Barron - Team Wellington, Leo Bertos - Wellington Phoenix, Andy Boyens - New York Red Bulls, Jeremy Brockie - Newcastle Jets, Tim Brown - Wellington Phoenix (vice captain), Jeremy Christie - FC Tampa Bay Rowdies, Aaron Clapham - Canterbury United, Simon Elliott - unattached, Rory Fallon - Plymouth Argyle, Chris Killen - Middlesbrough, Tony Lochhead - Wellington Phoenix, Michael McGlinchey - Motherwell, Glen Moss - Melbourne Victory, David Mulligan - unattached, Ryan Nelsen - Blackburn Rovers (captain), Mark Paston - Wellington Phoenix, Winston Reid - FC Midtjylland (Denmark), Ben Sigmund - Wellington Phoenix, Shane Smeltz - Gold Coast United, Tommy Smith - Ipswich Town, Ivan Vicelich - Auckland City, Chris Wood - West Bromwich Albion.
Editor: Dex McLuskey.