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Herbert Happy With Final Hitout

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Ricki Herbert
Ricki Herbert

Wellington, June 10 NZPA - New Zealand had a double dose of good news as their soccer World Cup preparations continued in South Africa today.

They emerged unscathed from their final warmup game, a 0-2 loss to Chile in Nelspruit, and are about to welcome back midfielder Tim Brown, who is to leave New Zealand today after making a quick recovery from shoulder surgery.

Coach Ricki Herbert always considered the outing against the South Americans as little more than a training exercise and he was relieved there were no injuries to report after a game played in three 30-minute periods.

Talismanic captain Ryan Nelsen did not play because of an ear infection and remained back at the team's base outside of Johannesburg, but most members of the 23-strong squad got game time as Herbert took the opportunity to shuffle his lineup as the match progressed.

"We got pretty much what we wanted," Herbert told reporters after the match.

The All Whites held world No 17 Chile scoreless for two-thirds of the game before Chile pounced twice within the space of three minutes in the last third when Gonzalo Fierro and Esteban Paredes scored.

Fierro scored with a shot at the near post in the 67th minute, with Paredes firing the second 3min later.

Jean Beausejour earlier went close for Chile after bursting on to a Matias Fernandez pass, but New Zealand goalkeeper Mark Paston deflected the shot over with his shoulder in the 23rd minute.

Neither team over-exerted themselves and Fierro eventually broke the deadlock with a shot that beat New Zealand's substitute goalkeeper James Bannatyne at the near post.

Paredes then got his goal almost immediately, racing in front of Ivan Vicelic before stroking the ball low past Bannatyne.

New Zealand's best chance came when Tommy Smith failed to hit the target from close range in the dying minutes.

New Zealand open their account in group F at the World Cup against Slovakia in Rustenburg on June 16 (NZT). They later play world champions Italy and Paraguay.

It is still unclear whether Brown will be considered to play against Slovakia.

He has made a remarkable recovery from shoulder surgery.

Vice-captain Brown was an integral part of the All Whites' qualification campaign, but injured his shoulder when falling heavily in the All Whites' 1-2 loss to Australia in a friendly in Melbourne on May 24.

He returned to Auckland for surgery as the team headed to Europe for warmup matches against Serbia and Slovenia.

"We're thankful for the surgeon and the medical staff that looked after him for doing a tremendous job," Herbert said.

"He has apparently come through everything so well."

He underwent surgery to repair a fracture, having three screws inserted in the bone.

A team spokesman said Brown had made "a remarkable recovery" in the fortnight since the operation.

Wellington midfielder Cole Peverley, who was called up as replacement cover for Brown, will stay on in South Africa.

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