- Publish Date
- Sunday, 10 October 2021, 8:26AM
By: Michael Burgess
The All Whites have enjoyed a positive return to the international arena, with an impressive 2-1 win over Curacao on Sunday morning.
After a hiatus of almost 700 days, it was a confidence boosting result, against the accomplished but erratic Caribbean team.
First half goals from Bill Tuiloma and Chris Wood gave New Zealand a buffer, and they were good enough to hang on to their advantage as Curacao came back in the second period.
It's the first victory achieved in coach Danny Hay's short tenure, after the defeats in Ireland and Lithuania in November 2019, and continues the momentum achieved during the recent Olympic campaign.
Like in Japan, New Zealand tried to employ a possession based style and press when possible, though it wasn't straightforward in the hot humid conditions and on an unforgiving surface.
There was some neat football, with composure and clever triangles, though they should have capitalised more on a number of chances, especially in the first 60 minutes.
If anything, the All Whites were guilty of some impatience in the final third, looking for the killer ball when one more pass could have made the difference.
But the match ticked a lot of boxes; there was flair and finesse, then fight, from a youthful All Whites team. They probably should have been further ahead after the first hour, but then managed the game well in a challenging final 30 minutes.
Wood led the line well, while Liberato Cacace, Joe Bell, Sarpreet Singh and Tuiloma were other standouts in a strong team effort.
The All Whites made a positive start. Despite a spongy, uneven pitch at the Bahrain International stadium, they tried to play from the outset.
After missing the Olympics to focus on his club football in Germany, Singh made an immediate impact, neatly finding space in midfield, before releasing Wood, who mistimed his shot.
Singh was at the tip of a youthful midfield diamond, with Bell the anchor and debutants Matthew Garbett and Marko Stamenic out wide.