Sports Mole previews Thursday’s friendly clash between New Zealand and China, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
The visitors have only ever defeated their midweek opponents once in history, giving them plenty of incentive to pick up a victory in this friendly.
New Zealand’s last match was way back in June of last year, with this being a long-awaited return to international football for the All Whites.
Their previous outing saw them beaten by Costa Rica as they conceded in the third minute of the game and were unable to respond in a 1-0 loss.
However, their record against China is a stronger one as they have won half of their 14 encounters over the years, even though the two teams have not beaten their opponents since 1990.
With this being the first of two friendly matches, caretaker manager Darren Bazeley will be hoping to get things started well for this period.
New Zealand’s attacking qualities should prove to be important in this one as they scored 18 goals in their previous six matches.
That is something that the Dragon Team might be prepared for though as they have kept clean sheets in their previous two games following a draw against Japan and a victory over Hong Kong.
Tan Long scored the only goal of China’s most recent outing, however, they had to rely on their defensive qualities to guarantee that result.
China have struggled massively when it comes to finding the back of the net as of late as they have only scored once in their last five matches, which is an area of concern for the team.
The last three times they have competed against New Zealand has led to draws, with all of them finishing 1-1, showcasing how tight fixtures have been between them.
After competing in the EAFF E-1 Football Championship a return to international friendlies is something that the team might welcome, with this providing a little more freedom for the team.
New Zealand form (all competitions):
China form (all competitions):
Bazeley has brought back Max Mata and Alex Rufer to the New Zealand squad for this international break, with both men getting their first call-ups since 2019.
Alongside them there will be a debutant in the squad hoping to earn his first cap as Callan Elliot will be hoping his form for Wellington Phoenix can earn him some minutes in this game.
One man who will be guaranteed a starting place is Nottingham Forest frontman Chris Wood, as the Premier League star is a key part of the All Whites team.
Sarpreet Singh and Ryan Thomas both missed out on selection for this international break though due to recent injuries, as they have been left to continue returning to fitness at their respective clubs.
After scoring in their most recent international match Long will be hoping to feature in China’s starting lineup once again, meanwhile defensively there might not be any changes due to their recent clean sheets.
New Zealand possible starting lineup:
Sail; Pijanker, Reid, Elliot; Bell, Lewis, Payne, Ingham, Garbett; Wood, Greive
China possible starting lineup:
Han; Browning, Zhu, Wu; He, Jiang, Dai, Xu; Chen, Tan, Fang
We say: New Zealand 1-1 China
Neither team has been in particularly strong form in recent times, and with this being a friendly without too much on the line it would not be a surprise to see them compete in a draw.
For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.