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Listless All Whites beaten by Belarus

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 12/06/2017
All Whites © NZN All Whites

The All Whites have failed to fire in their final warm-up match ahead of the Confederations Cup, going down 1-0 to Belarus in Minsk.

Lacking authority in possession, New Zealand barely created a chance at Traktor Stadium in a friendly dominated by the 83rd-ranked hosts in persistent rain.

It is a setback for the All Whites, who lost to Northern Ireland by the same scoreline 10 days earlier. They were far more competitive in Belfast against higher-ranked opponents.

Coach Anthony Hudson has work to do ahead of the opening Confederations Cup match against hosts Russia on Sunday (NZT).

Long balls to captain and striker Chris Wood were largely ineffectual while the midfield struggled to hold possession or make any penetration.

His team spent most of the match holding out raids from a Belarusian side missing several key players.

The goal came two minutes into the second half when poor marking at the far post failed to deal with a lobbed cross.

It was stabbed home by Dzianis Paliakou, between the legs of goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic.

New Zealand were at their sharpest in the first 10 minutes after Hudson made three starting changes from the Belfast clash.

In defence, Themi Tzimopoulos and Deklan Wynne replaced Tommy Smith and Tom Doyle, while midfielder Clayton Lewis made way for veteran striker Shane Smeltz.

Hudson went to his bench straight after the goal, with minimal effect.

Monty Patterson and Bill Tuiloma replaced Ryan Thomas and Tzimopoulos while Smeltz made way soon afterwards, for Kosta Barbarouses.

Marinovic was busy throughout, pulling off several sharp saves. His best was off a deflected shot from Igor Burko, who was prominent on the Belarus right wing.

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