9 Sep 2015

All Whites draw with Myanmar

1:53 pm on 9 September 2015

The All Whites have drawn 1-1 with Myanmar in their international football clash in Yangon.

It means the All Whites have gone 11 games without a win stretching back to 2013, while coach Anthony Hudson has yet to taste success since he took over last year.

Shane Smeltz's 43rd-minute penalty gave the visitors the lead just before half-time but the home side rebounded in the second period and pulled themselves level through Thiha Zaw's deflected effort just after the hour mark.

The All Whites coach Anthony Hudson. China v New Zealand All Whites. 2014.

The All Whites coach Anthony Hudson. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Substitute Alex Rufer, making his All Whites debut, came closest to restoring the New Zealand lead but his 81st-minute header was turned against the post by Myanmar goalkeeper Myo Min Latt.

Anthony Hudson's All Whites were good value for their first-half lead, dominating possession and creating several chances in the opening 20 minutes, the best of which saw Themi Tzimopoulos' header cleared off the line by the Myanmar defence.

Jeremy Brockie had his 21st-minute goal bound volley blocked by Latt and the hosts - who grew in confidence as the half wore on, had their best chance in the 37th minute.

A swift counter attack caught the New Zealand rear-guard square and goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic did superbly to save at the feet of the Myanmar striker through one-on-one with the Kiwi stopper.

Hudson's side rebounded from that scare in the best possible fashion, taking the lead two minutes before half-time.

Marco Rojas collected possession on the edge of the area and weaved his way through a clutch of Myanmar players and, just as he looked to shoot, he was felled by a lunging defender and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

Playing his first match since the FIFA World Cup intercontinental playoff loss to Mexico in 2013, Smeltz stepped forward and confidently slotted his 24th international goal - his first since a 2-0 win over Tahiti in October 2012 - to move five finishes behind all-time leading All Whites scorer Vaughan Coveny.

After a Brockie header in the early stages of the second period, it was the hosts who carried the more regular threat through their increasingly penetrative counter attacks and it was by that method they levelled things up in the 66th minute.

Regaining possession in midfield, they broke swiftly down their right flank and when in behind the All Whites defensive unit, the ball was cut back to Zaw who saw his first time shot cannon off New Zealand captain Winston Reid and into the back of Marinovic's net.

A minute later, Thomas Doyle - who was a regular supply line into the Myanmar penalty area throughout the 90 minutes - crossed for substitute Clayton Lewis but the youngster couldn't make contact with time and space to get a shot on target.

Soon afterwards two more Myanmar counter attack opportunities were dealt with by the New Zealand defensive unit before Rufer's headed chance was brilliantly turned onto the post by Latt inside the last 10 minutes.

Substitute Moses Dyer had a sight of goal in the first minute of stoppage time but with a defender recovering, the Onehunga Sports player tried to cut it back and the danger was cleared. The hosts then found time in the last minute to threaten via a counter attack once more - hitting a shot against the side netting with the final act of the game.

Hudson handed second half All Whites debuts to Harshae Raniga, who was withdrawn due to injury soon after entering the game, Liam Higgins and Rufer.

Speaking after the game Hudson said the side didn't play up to the standards they aimed to set.

"We certainly weren't at the level we intended to play at," Hudson said.

"We did have possession in the first half and we had decent spells and created a few chances but I just felt we lacked throughout the game a little bit of urgency and we were a little bit one-paced."

"Overall we paid the price for not finishing one or two of the chances we created in the first half."

Hudson said despite holding the lead at the break, the team weren't comfortable and they couldn't find a way to consistently raise their level in the second period.

"Going in at 1-0 at half-time I felt we needed to calm things down, I felt one or two of us were a bit nervy in the first half.

"Getting into the second half we lost a few players early on through injury and the game sort of ran away from us."

Looking ahead, Hudson says the group will learn from their experience as he continues to build his campaign towards the Oceania FIFA World Cup qualifiers next year.

"It is quite strange to say this but we've had such a good week so there is certainly a lot of positives, certainly up until the end of the game."

"We're just going to continue along the same lines. The result tonight was very disappointing. We've just had an hour-long meeting with the players and we all know we should be doing better."

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