Still a balancing act for All Whites coach Darren Bazeley

All Whites coach Darren Bazeley admits finding a balance between consistency and giving players an opportunity remains a challenge.

The side is in Egypt for a FIFA series tournament which also involves the hosts, Croatia and Tunisia.

Bazeley says there will be some changes to his side for Wednesday’s third place play-off against Tunisia in Cairo.

New Zealand started the series without three key players, with Chris Wood, Joe Bell and Tim Payne all injured.

For the game against Egypt – which the home side won 1-0 – Max Mata was named up front, Dane Ingham at right back and Max Crocombe in goal.

Bazeley doesn’t want to make too many changes as he wants goals and results.

“It is a balance, – we’re trying to get some consistency and the more we play together, the more we can build performances,” Bazeley said in a pre-game media conference.

“But also balancing that with opportunities for players that are in form.

“We do need consistency [of selection] because we still don’t play that many games.”

Bazelely has talked about an evolution that is needed to turn possession into more shots on goal.

“We’ve really worked on becoming a possession-based team, now we’re talking about the trigger of turning possession into attacking play and actually starting to hurt teams.”

Dane Ingham of New Zealand in action against Egypt, Cairo, 2024.

That is made difficult without the likes of Nottingham Forest star Chris Wood. However midfielder Marko Stamenic is sure it will happen.

“Over time this will come. We’re still a very young and enthusiastic team, so we’re all willing to improve.

“If you look at it over the last couple of years there has been a big improvement in the way we play. Now we’re at that next stage of converting that possession into goals.”

Tunisia is ranked 41 in the world, 62 places above New Zealand. But the All Whites coach isn’t fazed.

“We’re at a stage where we can compete with teams ranked in the 30s, but we were disappointed that they didn’t get a win [against Egypt],” Bazeley said.

“So this team is ready to take that next step and start turning performances into results.”

Kick-off is at 9am NZ time on Wednesday.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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