Nelsen, Reid excited for 'special' match
Mon, 15 Oct 2012 6:44p.m.
By Andrew Gourdie
Defensive duo Ryan Nelsen and Winston Reid have been declared fit for the All Whites' World Cup qualifying match against Tahiti in Christchurch tomorrow night.
It's a long-awaited homecoming for Nelsen, but the form of another local lad means Reid may have to settle for a place on the bench.
The All Whites paid a visit to the child cancer ward at Christchurch Hospital today – a special moment for Nelsen in his trip home.
“I've played everywhere in the world, in some pretty cool stadiums and all that, but playing in Christchurch - especially at the end of your career - is something pretty special.”
Tomorrow night will be the first time Nelsen's worn the All Whites shirt in front of a home crowd. He returns to the side after missing Saturday’s win over Tahiti with a knee injury.
Coach Ricki Herbert is pleased to see Nelsen.
“[It’s] good to have him back. He'll captain the side and he'll certainly be in the starting 11 to kick the game off.”
Herbert will also have the services of Winston Reid after back spasms ruled him out of the trip to Tahiti.
But Herbert has a selection conundrum on his hands thanks to Ben Sigmund, whose header sealed a 2-0 victory in Papeete.
“Yeah cross my fingers, I’ve hopefully done enough to hopefully get a start after Tahiti, we've just got to wait and see what the coach says now."
Herbert says Sigmund was outstanding in Tahiti and admits it'll be difficult to leave him out.
“He's a good shot to start and that's very much on a performance-based case, so there's a few hard decisions but I’d rather have that than not.”
So Sigmund's set to play in front of his home crowd and Herbert's hinted there could be more changes. With a number of players walking a suspension tightrope, and an intercontinental playoff for a place at the World Cup looming on the horizon.
“We've got seven or eight sitting on yellow and we've lost one in Tim Payne from the away match in Tahiti, so we just need to be careful,” Herbert says.
Victory tomorrow could leave the All Whites six points clear at the top of Oceania qualifying group with two games to go.
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