Late goal seals fate for All Whites

Sunday News - - SPORT - LIAM HYS­LOP

ALL Whites coach An­thony Hud­son is dis­ap­pointed af­ter his side gave up a late win­ner in a friendly loss to Ja­pan.

The 2-1 loss on a wet Fri­day night at Toy­ota Sta­dium in Nagoya fea­tured a re­spectable per­for­mance against the 40thranked side in the world, but not the re­sult Hud­son wanted.

‘‘If I’m to­tally hon­est, my ini­tial feel­ing is one of huge dis­ap­point­ment be­cause we did so well, showed so much char­ac­ter, showed a lot of fight to get back into the game at a dif­fi­cult place. We were so close to get­ting a huge re­sult away from home,’’ Hud­son said.

‘‘With the dis­ap­point­ment I’m in­cred­i­bly proud of the play­ers be­cause we said at the be­gin­ning this is a two-legged af­fair, home and away, and we’re still in it.’’

Shu Ku­rata grabbed the win­ner two min­utes from time with a header from close range. That was af­ter Chris Wood’s 58th-minute header can­celled out Yuya Osako’s opener from the penalty spot eight min­utes ear­lier.

It was a match Ja­pan dom­i­nated for long pe­ri­ods, al­though New Zealand were able to grab a foothold in the game ei­ther side of half­time. The best you could say about the open­ing 20 min­utes, though, was the All Whites didn’t con­cede.

Ja­pan had a host of chances to go 1-0, but failed to convert.

Shinji Ka­gawa had the best of them when fir­ing his shot from 12 yards out against the right up­right.

Oddly, Ja­pan did their best work from long balls – some­thing you would have backed New Zealand’s big, ex­pe­ri­enced back three of An­drew Du­rante, Win­ston Reid and Michael Box­all to deal with.

Ja­pan’s balls for­ward were ac­cu­rate and their su­pe­rior body po­si­tions meant they could bring the ball down eas­ily and lay­off to their sup­port play­ers, or flick on for run­ners to go through on goal.

New Zealand got into the game more and more as the pace of the game slowed in the sec­ond part of the half.

They showed small flashes of de­cent play, but they only had a Wood shot that went over the top from out­side the box af­ter 34 min­utes to show for it.

Hud­son said it was clearly not the start they were af­ter, but was pleased with how his side re­cov­ered.

‘‘We can pre­pare and we can talk all we want, but then the whis­tle blows and you’re play­ing a very, very good team like Ja­pan and they start quick and they at­tack you.

‘‘We ac­tu­ally need to learn how to man­age those pe­ri­ods bet­ter, but cer­tainly I think af­ter 20 min­utes we then started to re­lax and started to do what we set out to do at the be­gin­ning.’’

The All Whites aban­doned the high press­ing game they have im­ple­mented for most of Hud­son’s reign in this match, opt­ing to sit back for the most part. That was prob­a­bly due to their ap­proach to the game, treat­ing it like the away leg of Novem­ber’s Fifa World Cup qual­i­fy­ing in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal play­off against the fifth-placed South Amer­i­can team.

Michael McGlinchey brought up his 50th cap in the match.

Chris Wood flies high to gain pos­ses­sion for New Zealand.

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