The All Whites are about to play their first game in a remarkable 525 days when they take on Ireland in Dublin on Friday.
It’s been a long time without drinks for the young squad, and for their two English Premier League stars Chris Wood and Winston Reid.
While Reid has been injured longterm and so not taking the field for West Ham, Wood has been in rich form for Burnley, scoring five league goals already this season – and a total of 25 in 72 appearances for the club.
He’s just re-signed with Sean Dyche’s side and the panel on TVNZ FC this week speculate that he will have secured himself a big pay rise from the reported 35,000 pounds a week (about $70,000) he was on before.
They note that his partnership with Ashley Barnes has blossomed and that, while Wood’s style as a big frontman is unfashionable, it’s been achieving results. And that he also shows good skill and technical ability and will be the key player for New Zealand in Dublin.
TVNZ FC host Chris Chang thinks the All Whites can get a result, but panelists Jack Mabire and Simon Plumb warned against inflating expectations with Ireland a long way ahead in the Fifa rankings.
The side play a second game, possibly with a totally different starting eleven, against Lithuania on Monday.
The show this week also dives into Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Man City and whether the Reds’ first goal should have been disallowed for handball in the buildup.
City manager Pep Guardiola’s angry response to that and another handball decision, and his sarcastic “thank you very much” to the referee at the end gets the once over, with the panel wondering whether the pressure is building as his time at the club could be coming to an end.