Socceroos wary of wounded New Zealand

June 2, 2011
By Liam FitzGibbon

The Socceroos are bracing for the `trans-Tasman factor' to kick in when they face a New Zealand side wounded, travel-weary and demoralised after a heavy defeat to Mexico.

As Australia on Thursday continued low-key preparations for Sunday's match at Adelaide Oval, the All Whites were copping a 3-0 hammering more than 14,000km away in a friendly in Denver, Colorado.

Things couldn't have gone much worse for New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert, with key players Simon Elliott and Winston Reid picking up injuries to join an already-lengthy casualty list.

It means the All Whites will arrive in Australia on Saturday with only 14 available outfield players and little time to recover from a hectic travel schedule.

But memories of an epic encounter in Melbourne prior to last year's World Cup will ensure the Socceroos won't let their guard down against their opponents, who emerged undefeated in South Africa with three draws.

"It goes without saying, Australia v New Zealand in any code of sport, whether it be football, rugby league or marbles, it's competitive and you want to win," defender Luke Wilkshire said.

"It's kind of a friendly rivalry you could say but I think they'll want to knock us off.

"It's a scalp that they'll want to take from us but we've got to make sure that we don't let that happen."

Wilkshire said New Zealand were bound to be affected by their quick turnaround but expected there would be no excuses come Sunday.

"It's football. A lot of us have played on the weekend too and have had long flights and come into camp here and we've got to play Sunday and then Tuesday (against Serbia in Melbourne)," he said.

"I'm sure they'll adjust."

Australia needed a 94th-minute goal from Brett Holman to overcome the Kiwis 2-1 when they clashed in Melbourne last May in a World Cup warm-up.

The match was marked by several fiery incidents, including reckless challenges by Vince Grella and Tim Cahill on Leo Bertos which infuriated the Kiwis.

Players welcomed another intense clash in Adelaide, but not at the expense of a worthy spectacle for an expected bumper crowd.

"With rivalries it's always going to be a bit fiery," defender Sasa Ognenovski said.

"Hopefully both sides come out and play football and it's not as fiery as the last game but we'll wait and see how the game pans out."

Already missing the likes of captain Ryan Nelsen, Tommy Smith, Tony Lochhead, Bertos, Rory Fallon, Jeremy Christie and Marco Rojas, the All Whites also lost Elliott (hamstring) and Reid (groin) on Thursday, leaving Herbert little room to move with selections against Australia.

"I don't think anybody could have predicted this but we'll deal with it," the Wellington Phoenix coach said.

"The young guys are all going to have to play, and in some ways that's good."

Goalkeeper Adam Federici completed Australia's camp in Adelaide on Wednesday night after arriving late following Reading's promotion playoff loss to Swansea.