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Kiwis Abroad: Wood fires while Ferns prepare for USA

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

After booking their place in the Intercontinental Playoff in November for a chance to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, many of the All Whites were back to their clubs and in the thick of the action.

All Whites striker and man of the moment Chris Wood secured his first English Premier League start for Burnley against struggling Crystal Palace at the weekend. The 25-year-old, who joined the club on a record $26m fee, was quickly into the play for the Clarets as he seized on a horrendous back-pass from Lee Chung-yong. The All Whites forward beat Palace goalie Wayne Hennessey with a fine first-time strike after just three minutes. Wood played 90 minutes and had a strong game as Burnley fought off a constant challenge from Palace and held on for the three points. For Wood, it has been a fruitful few weeks in front of goal after scoring the equaliser at Tottenham after coming on as a substitute two weeks ago and scoring a hat-trick in the first leg of the FIFA World Cup Qualifier against the Solomon Islands in Auckland which all-but sealed the OFC Nations Cup champions place in the Intercontinental Playoff in November.

Meanwhile All Whites captain Winston Reid made a return from his ankle injury for West Ham United who picked up their first points of the season when they defeated Huddersfield Town 2-0 at home. It was the perfect result to celebrate Manager Slaven Bilic’s 49th birthday and eased the pressure on the manager and club. The Hammers sit in 18th position and will look to build on this result. Reid, wearing the captain’s arm-band, gained some valuable match fitness on his return in what was a solid, hard-working display marshalling the backline.

Fellow New Zealand centre-half Tommy Smith sat out Ipswich Town’s 2-1 away loss to QPR with injury, while fellow Tractor Boy Monty Patterson was an unused substitute in the Ipswich U-23’s 3-0 win over the Barnsley U-23 side.

SC Heerenveen, home to All Whites midfielder Marco Rojas, had a 2-0 home victory over fancied rivals PSV Eindhoven to propel them to seventh on the Eredivisie table. Rojas missed the game as he recovered from the quad strain which kept him out of the All Whites recent FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. Also in the Eredivisie, Ryan Thomas of PEC Zwolle played 90 minutes in a 3-0 away loss to Ajax. Thomas and PEC will be hoping for greater fortune in their next match at home to Heracles.

Closer to home, the Wellington Phoenix are in Australia for a preseason tour. The Phoenix Kiwi contingent of Michael McGlinchey, Thomas Doyle, Oli Sail, Matthew Ridenton, Hamish Watson, Alex Rufer and Andrew Durante have all seen game time in the last week as the club builds fitness and match time ahead of the A-League which begins on 8 October. The recent games against Blacktown (2-1 loss) and the Central Coast Mariners (1-0 loss) have provided the new-look squad a chance to impress new coach Darije Kalezic.

Over in North America, All Whites goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic, who starred for Anthony Hudson’s team in the away leg at Honiara recently, sat on the bench as the Whitecaps beat Real Salt Lake to solidify their position of third in the MLS Western Conference.

Midfielder James Musa’s Sporting Kansas City drew 1-1 with Colombus Crew with Musa not featuring in the match day squad. Neither Jake Gleeson nor Bill Tuiloma featured in the Portland Timbers’ 1-0 away victory over NYC FC. Portland are at the top of the Western Conference table.

Meanwhile centre-half Michael Boxall played the full 90 minutes as his Minnesota United team drew 1-1 at home with the Philadelphia Union.

Former All White Tyler Boyd, who is playing in the Portuguese Primeria Liga on loan to CD Tondela, came on for his third substitute appearance of the season with his team 2-0 up at the 74th minute only to see the lead evaporate with the team drawing as Pacos de Ferreira scored goals in the 75th and 92nd minutes to share the spoils. Tondela sit 11th of 18 places after five games.

Over in South Africa, former All Whites forward Jeremy Brockie scored an important double as SuperSport United booked their spot in the MTN8 final after claiming a 2-0 win over Maritzburg United in the second leg of their semi-final tie. Brockie, who has played 49 internationals for New Zealand, rose well in the 13th minute to head home Aubrey Modiba’s cross. Maritzburg United came back into the match but were unable to score and Brockie made them pay when he headed home at the far post. The Kiwi forward scored his 50th and 51st goals in the win, and now has his sights set on surpassing the late Abram Raselemane’s record of 57 goals for the club. The 29-year-old has a fine record from his two and a half years in South Africa and has scored in every competition he’s played in.

A good number of Football Ferns were in action ahead of the much-anticipated USA tour which includes two international friendlies against the World No 1.

Ali Riley, who was a finalist for the Women’s World XI in 2016, played the full 90 minutes for Rosengard in a top of the table clash in the Swedish Damallsvenskan against league leaders Linkoping. Despite being 2-0 down, Rosengard rallied to score two goals for it to finish 2-2 and Rosengard claimed a valuable point. The Ferns skipper has played in all 15 league matches this year and scored one goal.

Also in Sweden, Hannah Wilkinson played 83 minutes for her Vittsjo team in another draw. Her team remained scoreless at home to Pitea. In the 12 team league, Vittsjo sit in eighth place on 17 points while Rosengard remain second on 33 points, four points adrift of the league leaders.

Staying in Scandinavia, Kirsty Yallop, playing for Klepp in Norway, played a full game in a disappointing home loss to Trongheims-Orn. Klepp remain sixth on the table. Football Ferns coach Tony Readings hopes Yallop can replicate her recent club goal scoring form against the USA.

CJ Bott, a product of the FFDP women’s domestic programme, was an unused substitute as USV Jena played out a 2-2 draw at home to Werder Bremen in the German Frauen Bundesliga.

Football Ferns striker Amber Hearn, who has opted out of this tour of the USA, had mixed feelings as she scored an 88th minute consolation goal for FC Koln in a 5-3 home loss to SSG Essen.

There were happier times for Betsy Hassett over in Iceland as her KR Reykjavik team overcame a 1-0 half time deficit to storm home 3-1. Hassett, who is currently on 99 internationals for New Zealand and hoping to bring up that milestone on the USA tour, played the full 90 minutes before she was substituted four minutes into injury time.

Football Ferns goalkeeper Erin Nayler was pleased to have a win under her belt as her French Division 1 team Bordeaux overcame ASPTT Albi 3-1.

Experienced defender Ria Percival, who plays for FC Basel in the Swiss Nationalliga, played in a 2-2 draw against Zurich. Zurich maintain second spot on the table with Basel in third after two games of the season.

Finally back to North America and the American National Women’s Soccer League had several Ferns preparing for the friendlies against the world’s best side. Katie Bowen, who has been in fine goal scoring form of late, played 56 minutes of FC Kansas City’s 0-0 draw with the Chicago Red Stars. Kansas City remain seventh on the table of 10 teams. Football Ferns striker Rosie White, of the Boston Breakers, who are at the bottom of the table were not able to upset the second-placed Portland Thorns.

Ferns defender Rebekah Stott played a full 90 minutes as the fifth-placed Seattle Reign drew 1-1 with fourth placed Orlando Pride. The game had a frenetic finish when the Pride scored through US Soccer star Alex Morgan in the 92nd minute and Jessica Fishlock equalised in the 94th minute.

The Ferns are happy to be back in camp for the first time since the Cyprus Cup in March and will look to cause an upset when they come up against the FIFA World Cup Champions on Saturday in Denver.

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