Indian National Football Team: Know Your Rivals - New Zealand

Goal tells you everything you need to know about the Blue Tigers' opponents in the upcoming Intercontinental Cup to be held in Mumbai...
Quick Facts

Country: New Zealand

FIFA Ranking: 133

Nickname: All Whites

Last official match played:  Canada 1-0 New Zealand (March 22 2018)

Coach:  Fritz Schmid

Team Highlights

For much of their history, New Zealand football has lived in the shadows of their Trans-Tasman neighbours and arch-rivals Australia. However, their history is nothing to be scoffed at with two World Cup qualifications, the latest of them coming in 2010. The All Whites have been champions of the Oceania Football Confederation on five separate occasions, which is the most by any side.

Since 2006, Australia broke away from OFC to join to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) leaving New Zealand as the dominant force in the region. In 2016, the All Whites held the 88th position in the FIFA Rankings. However, their rankings have been sliding of late and a friendly defeat to Canada in March saw them drop to the 133rd spot.

That match was Fritz Schmid’s first official match in charge of the New Zealand side after taking over the coach’s role following Anthony Hudson’s resignation from the job last November.

Hudson’s resignation had come after New Zealand had failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. After finishing top of the OFC region in the qualifiers, the All Whites went down 2-0 in their inter-continental playoff with Peru who finished fifth in the CONMEBOL division.

Lessons from the past

India and New Zealand have only once met previously in their combined football histories. The meeting came during the Merdeka Cup in Malaysia in 1981 during a group game.

Drawn alongside each other in Group 1, India and New Zealand played out a goal-less stalemate in their sole meeting. India finished as the runners-up of the group behind Japan to advance to the semi-finals where they went down to a Sao Paulo XI. The All Whites finished third in the group and were knocked out of the tournament.

Predicted Line-up

The All Whites side named for the Inter-Continental Cup is set to be one of the youngest in their history. With an eye on the 2020 Olympics in Japan and the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, Fritz Schmid has named a squad filled with plenty of promise.

Of the 23-man squad which took on Peru in the World Cup qualifying play-off, only three members have been retained for the Intercontinental Cup with midfielder Clayton Lewis being the only starter amongst them.

Most of New Zealand’s squad ply their trade in England and the Major League Soccer (MLS). The country’s star player Chris Wood has been given time off after a strong campaign for Burnley while Winston Reid of West Ham and Ryan Thomas are currently injured. The majority of the MLS contingent will be unavailable for the Intercontinental Cup.

Schmid has named as many as six uncapped players in the 23-man squad while there are 10 players who have played only five international matches each so far. Only five players in the named squad have played more than 10 matches for New Zealand.

Goalkeeper Max Crocombe and defender Dane Ingham are the other two members in the squad apart from Lewis who were part of the World Cup qualifying playoff. With so many changes made for the tournament, what side Schmid will put out is anyone’s guess.

Players To Watch Out For 

Liberato Cacace: A few months ago, the central defender was turning out for New Zealand in the FIFA U17 World Cup in India. It has been a meteoric rise for the 17-year-old schoolboy who made his A-League debut for Wellington Phoenix just this February.

Schmid has shown a lot of confidence in the teenager by giving him his maiden senior call-up with big things expected from the defender in the future for New Zealand.

Clayton Lewis: The 21-year-old midfielder plays for Scunthorpe United in League One of English football. The youngster played a big part in New Zealand’s Confederation Cup campaign last year where he provided the assist for his side’s only goal of the tournament.

With 13 caps under his belt, Lewis is one of the most experienced faces in the young squad and hence, he will be a key player for Schmid in Mumbai.

Full Squad

Goalkeepers: Max Crocombe, Michael Woud, Nik Tzanev

Defenders: Nikko Boxall, Adam Mitchell, Sam Brotherton, Tom Doyle, Dane Ingham, Te Atawhai Hudson Wihongi, Justin Gulley, Te Atawhai Hudson Wihongi

Midfielders: Matt Ridenton, Sarpreet Singh, Henry Cameron, Cam Howieson, Clayton Lewis, Tim Payne, Alex Rufer, Andre De Jong, Moses Dyer

Forwards:  Jai Ingham, Noah Billingsley, Myer Bevan​