New Zealand selected fit-again forwards Shane Smeltz, Chris Wood and Marco Rojas for this month’s World Cup playoff against Mexico as the All Whites seek a second straight appearance at soccer’s global championship.
The attacking trio missed last month’s 0-0 draw against Trinidad & Tobago because of injuries, though were today named in a 23-man squad for the two-match series with Mexico. Full-back Storm Roux, who plays for Australian A-League champions Central Coast Mariners, was called up for the first time.
Mexico, which finished fourth in the North and Central America and the Caribbean qualifying region, will host the opener Nov. 13 in Mexico City with the second game taking place a week later in Wellington. The winner over the two matches advances to next year’s World Cup in Brazil.
New Zealand was the only team not to lose a match at the 2010 edition in South Africa, drawing with Slovakia, Italy and Paraguay. The All Whites advanced to the intercontinental playoff by winning all six of their matches in Oceania’s final qualifying group.
NEW ZEALAND SQUAD:
Goalkeepers: Glen Moss (Wellington Phoenix), Jacob Spoonley (Wellington Phoenix), Tamati Williams (Auckland City).
Defenders: Andrew Durante (Wellington Phoenix), Tony Lochhead (unattached), Winston Reid (West Ham United), Storm Roux (Central Coast Mariners), Ben Sigmund (Wellington Phoenix), Tommy Smith (Ipswich Town), Bill Tuiloma (Marsellie), Ivan Vicelich (Auckland City).
Midfielders: Leo Bertos (Wellington Phoenix), Aaron Clapham (Canterbury United), Jeremy Christie (unattached), Craig Henderson (Mjallby), Chris James (Kuopion Palloseura), Michael McGlinchey (Central Coast Mariners).
Forwards: Kosta Barbarouses (Melbourne Victory), Jeremy Brockie (Wellington Phoenix), Rory Fallon (St. Johnstone), Marco Rojas (Vfb Stuttgart), Shane Smeltz (Perth Glory), Chris Wood (Leicester City).