Soccer: Van Hattum urges fans to show up or miss out

By Terry Maddaford

Football chairman Frank van Hattum. Photo / NZPA
Football chairman Frank van Hattum. Photo / NZPA

New Zealand Football chairman Frank van Hattum has warned Aucklanders that tomorrow's All Whites World Cup qualifier at Albany may be the last chance to see the team.

Although next month's home game against Tahiti is set down for Christchurch, the third, in March against New Caledonia, has yet to be allocated.

"It costs between $300,000 to $400,000 to assemble the team for these games," van Hattum said.

"We need around 18,000 spectators to cover that. Unless people turn up we will be forced to look elsewhere."

A potential problem looms for New Zealand and the other teams chasing a place in Brazil in 2014.

Under the rules, yellow cards are cumulative through all 11 rounds starting in June's Nations Cup in Honiara until the end of the second phase in March.

The four Oceania teams all have players on yellow cards and are fully aware a second will mean automatic one-match suspensions.

So far, Tony Lochhead, red-carded after two yellows in the game against Papua New Guinea, and Leo Bertos with bookings against Fiji and New Caledonia, have sat out a match. Going into tomorrow night's game against the Solomon Islands, eight players are on a yellow.

The Solomons have six.

"It does make a difference to your thinking when you are looking at making substitutions," assistant coach Neil Emblen said.

"If you get to a stage in the game when you feel comfortable in the outcome, there can be a tendency to look at a player on a yellow card."

The All Whites arrived in Auckland on Saturday after their Friday night win in New Caledonia with only a couple of players nursing minor injuries.

"Tommy Smith got a bit of a whack on the leg," Emblen said. "But he is confident nothing is broken so we should be okay."

Facing the other first round winner, the All Whites know which ever team wins will be three points clear a third of the way through the qualifiers, while the loser of the Tahiti-New Caledonia game could be six points back.

NZ v Solomon Islands

North Harbour Stadium
Tomorrow 7.35pm.

- NZ Herald

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