Michael Burgess is a sports writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Michael Burgess: Powerpoint presentations no substitute for games

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Christopher Wood of New Zealand competes for the ball. Photo / Getty Images
Christopher Wood of New Zealand competes for the ball. Photo / Getty Images

A few questions are still to be answered about New Zealand Football's programme ahead of the 2016 Oceania Nations Cup.

It was announced on Friday that, after being unable to secure a game in the March international window, the All Whites build-up will be a two-week training camp in Australia, ahead of the tournament in Papua New Guinea.

It feels like a Clayton's build-up; the build-up you have when you are not really having a build-up.

It's bad enough there are no games in March, but that had been telegraphed by coach Anthony Hudson's outburst in January. It obviously wasn't economically viable, although it always feels like NZF should try to lock in such fixtures much earlier than they do.

The training camp is not a bad idea but isn't enough in isolation. There needs to be games. New Zealand will be the only nation in PNG not to have warm-up fixtures.

What about playing a club side or two, either in New Zealand or Japan or China? That's when you learn about players, when you build combinations, and is the only way to develop real sharpness.

Having two weeks of blackboard sessions, power point presentations and field work -- while better than nothing -- is far from ideal.

In 2002, the All Whites, who hadn't played for over a year, had two games in China (against an Olympic selection and Shandong) before hosting Dunfermline Athletic for two matches across three days. It was the right recipe, as New Zealand qualified for the 2003 Confederations Cup ahead of Australia.

The other glaring question is who is going to attend this camp? It's hard to see many European-based professionals there, and certainly not for the full fortnight.

The All Whites play their first game in Papua New Guinea on May 29, so will need to arrive at least five days before that, meaning the camp would need to start around May 9. Winston Reid won't play his last game for West Ham until May 16, and Chris Wood, Tommy Smith and others in the Championship won't end their campaigns until May 7. At PEC Zwolle, Ryan Thomas' final game is scheduled for May 9. They presumably all need a break -- so if they aren't going to be there -- the camp loses its purpose.

Hudson must also be concerned about the form of the Phoenix, who face another tough test today against the Perth Glory. They will be without both Vince Lia and Albert Riera in the middle of the park, meaning Manny Muscat is likely to start in midfield, with Dylan Fox slotting in alongside Andrew Durante in the centre of defence.

If they don't turn around their slump, Hudson will have a clutch of players down on confidence and form.

- Herald on Sunday

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Michael Burgess is a sports writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday. He was named the 2013 New Zealand football writer of the year and was a finalist in the Sports Reporter of the year at the 2014 Canon Media Awards.

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