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All Whites Continue African Safari

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
All Whites Continue African Safari

5 June 2009 - All Whites coach Ricki Herbert is balancing the twin concerns of building match fitness and managing player workloads ahead of New Zealand's second pre-Confederations Cup friendly against Botswana in Gaborone on Sunday morning (NZT).

The second of the All Whites' three-game Safari to warm up for the June14-28 tournament in South Africa will be used by Herbert to get as many of his squad valuable game time before fielding something close to a first choice 11 against World Champions Italy on Wednesday.

But rather than automatically ringing the changes from Thursday morning's 1-2 loss to Tanzania, the All Whites management team are keeping an eye on individual needs of players, especially those coming out of an A-league pre-season.

"The balancing act now is deciding with the staff which players need a certain amount of time," Herbert said.

"Going through the team, a number of them haven't been in-season so the last thing we want to do is whack three or four sets of 90 minutes into them and have nothing left for the tournament."

The All Whites will be based in Gaborone until June 9, and while they won't official arrive in South Africa until then, the team received a full welcome from South African while in transit at Johannesburg airport.

Against Botswana, New Zealand would request the use of more than the five substitutions that is standard in international friendlies, and while getting all players on the pitch was one aim, giving 45 minutes to a group of players that may start against Italy was a possibility.

Fitness levels were a concern for New Zealand in the defeat in Dar es Salaam, dropping away after a strong first half to concede twice after the break - including an 89th minute winner - and a Botswana team that held the Ivory Coast to a draw in World Cup qualifying is unlikely to offer an easier run.

Herbert was likely to finalise his starting line-up on Saturday night (NZT) but changes to the starting eleven would come in goal, where Glen Moss will replace Mark Paston, while Chris Killen could partner Shane Smeltz up front for a half at least.

Andy Boyens may also get the chance to push his claim for a Confederations Cup starting berth at centre back, and fellow MLS players Duncan Oughton and Jarrod Smith should see some time after Herbert held them back from the first game having arrived into camp the day before.

Ben Sigmund is not expected to feature but instead continues his race to be fit for the Italy match on June 10.

The match kicks off at 2am Sunday morning New Zealand time (4pm local).

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