All Whites 0
South Africa 0

If tonight's match was seen as a job interview for interim All Whites boss Neil Emblen, he may face a nervy wait for a call back.

The All Whites, missing five first choice players, drew 0-0 With South Africa at Mt Smart Stadium in a performance which showed glimpses of potential but, ultimately, ended in a dour stalemate.

Applications for the new coach closed today and Emblen said he hoped a good All Whites performance might help bolster his CV. They showed periods of promise against a nimble opposition, got lost in patches, but did enough to suggest there is a bright future.


Emblen hoped the match would signify the start of a new chapter for New Zealand football. Glen Moss was the only remaining player from the side that lost 2-0 to South Africa at the 2009 Confederations Cup and Marco Rojas and Ryan Thomas, New Zealand's two most precocious talents, were playing together for the first time.

Individually, some All Whites impressed but, overall, they played like an inexperienced team thrown together at short notice, unfamiliar with each other. And they were. They had three teenagers, an average age of 23 and four of the starting 11 had a combined seven caps between them.

There were touches of class and composure in defensive possession but too often the script got lost in attack.

Packed with diminutive, exciting attackers, the emphasis for New Zealand was on keeping the ball, creating space and exploiting it. Their style of play is a far cry from Ricki Herbert's era, when a safer, more direct style was preferred.

But too often the final pass was wasted. Marco Rojas, so often noted for his clever and accurate passing, had an off night and the Kiwis rarely threatened in behind.

But when they did it was because of Thomas, who made his home debut. The 19-year old has had a breakout year playing in the Dutch Eredivisie with PEC Zwolle and looked a touch sharper and more dangerous than his midfield colleagues.

The defensive naivety that cost the young side four quick goals against Japan was gone. Michael Boxall and Bill Tuiloma looked a lot more assured in defence, though Tim Payne struggled in a defensive midfield role.

South Africa were a slick, fast outfit. They were missing nine squad members, but still managed a 1-1 draw with World Cup-bound Australia on Monday and their squad consisted of 11 players who were involved in their recent loss to Brazil in March.

Moss saved the Kiwis from a horror start in the first minute when he raced 30 yards out from goal to block a shot from Rantie Tokelo.

Tyler Boyd missed New Zealand's best chance in the second half, squirming a shot wide from a tight angle after being set free by Rojas.

In reality, it was a decent result against a side ranked 66 in the world, especially as some All Whites hadn't played in couple of months, and there were some good signs for the future.

This young team now need more games as they build toward the next World Cup campaign. Sadly, there's not likely to be a game until September and they are still searching for the right man to lead them forward.