After New Zealand’s 4-0 romp in the ‘away’ leg four days earlier, it was time for the second meeting of the double-header. Chinese Taipei had not shown nearly enough for anyone to think that the tie was still open, and so they ought to rather focus on work experience for their players.
Even if it had been a comprehensive win last time around, there had been a couple of wobbly moments for the All Whites, most notably in defence. Not that they had come up against such stern opposition, but in spite of Taiwan’s lack of attacking prowess, they should’ve come away from that game with at least a goal to their name.
New Zealand manager John Adshead had been quite pleased, as he’d given the supporters value for money, and he was looking for more of the same on this occasion, adding a quality player such as Wynton Rufer to his squad of part-timers. The Switzerland based star man was surely not back in his home country just to make up the numbers, so it would be interesting to see who would have to give way. He arrived on the back of a hat-trick in the Swiss top league on the same day as his Kiwi mates had put four past Chinese Taipei ‘keeper Wen-Fong.
The game would for sure see New Zealand through to the qualification group stage.
Wynton Rufer. He was the player everyone would want to see. The star forward had not played under manager Adshead since the 1982 World Cup, and against ‘benign’ opposition, the management would surely give him a fairly trouble-free comeback in the All Whites shirt.
With various players giving fine accounts of themselves four days earlier, no one would wish to be left out, though.
Also: Would Adshead continue with the attacking formation which he’d introduced for the start of the 4-0 win? The 4-3-3 had worked well, with Noel Barkley a threat as he had frequently switched sides up front.
We still have precious little information about the Taiwanese group of players. They had done what they could in the previous meeting in Wellington, but ultimately proved to be at least one number short of a match to the Kiwis.
Captain Sang-An had, for reasons unknown to us, left the field of play ten minutes into the second half four days earlier. Would he return to the starting line-up here?
Gary Power was 37 years, and like the referee of the match four days earlier, he, too, came from Australia. He had no previous international assignments behind him. Power was joined by the same two linesmen who had worked the lines in Wellington: Richard Lorenc (36) and Don Campbell.
After the 4-0 win last Sunday, New Zealand now had a 6-1-0 record in World Cup qualification ties against Chinese Taipei.
New Zealand (4-3-3)
|1 Clint Gosling
|2 Michael Ridenton
|4 Garry Lund
|5 Ricki Herbert (c)
|6 Marty Jennison
|7 Tony Levy
|North Shore United
|9 Darren McClennan
|10 Noel Barkley
|11 Danny Halligan
|13 Wynton Rufer
|14 Billy Wright
|3 Malcolm Dunford
|8 Nigel Debenham
|1 Hse Wen-Fong
|3 Chang Wen-Chieh
|4 Wu Kuo-Ming
|5 Huang Pao-Chung
|7 Chen Jiunn-Ming
|8 Liou Jia-Leh
|12 Duh Deng-Chyan
|14 Lin Chih-Hung
|15 Chien I-Chiu
|16 Liu Yie-Cheng
|17 Chen Sing-An (c)
|6 Lin Yao-Heng
|11 Miao Chin-Chung
Whilst the ground capacity this time around was considerably higher than on Sunday, the 9,000 attendance figure was still considered very impressive. It was said to be owed to a large extent to Wynton Rufer’s comeback in the national select.
While manager Adshead had done his best to play down Rufer’s importance pre-match, there had never been any doubt as to whether he’d start the game. Continuing with the 4-3-3 formation rather than going out gung-ho and 4-2-4, Rufer was given the central midfield role which Chris Riley had held last time out. As he was on a yellow and thus risking to be suspended for the trip to Israel in March, Adshead opted to leave the combative, English-born player out.
Rufer showed his quality already in the opening stages, as he was frequently involved from his midfield position. He almost assisted for central defender Marty Jennison’s first goal at international level, but while Rufer’s back header from Tony Levy’s free-kick into the area found Jennison’s head, the stopper could only crash one off the bar. Two minutes later, Rufer struck from 25 yards a fierce effort which Wen-Fong could only parry, although the Taiwan ‘keeper was on hand to attend to his own rebound.
While Chinese Taipei had lasted 37 minutes on Sunday, they could only hold on for 11 minutes on this occasion. And it was the failure to fend off another Levy cross into the box from the right which proved to be their undoing. Ultimately, Billy Wright could tuck the ball across the line for his fourth goal in six international appearances.
It only took another five minutes for the hosts to add to their lead, and yet again Levy caused havoc with his crossing ability from the right. He found the head of Darren McClennan, whose sweet header was guided into the top left corner. Both strikers had scored in the previous meeting, and with about a quarter of an hour gone, they’d both once again been on target.
New Zealand dominated the first half, and Rufer was often in the thick of the action, even arriving at a few scoring opportunities himself. However, he’d not brought his finishing boots, and instead he’d have to see McClennan claim a second of the afternoon just before half time as the Kiwis made it 3-0. The hard-working Barkley crossed from the left, and while the marking in the visitors’ defence was non-existing, it was still a superb volley-finish from the 22 year old forward, who’d brought the ball down on his chest.
McClennan completed his hat-trick early in the second half as he connected with another cross into the area, this time from a Danny Halligan free-kick out towards the left. The Chinese Taipei defenders seemed to have no answer to the All Whites’ aerial strength, and this finish was a fine, looped header over Wen-Fong. Having gone 12 internationals without registering a single goal, the Mount Wellington man now had scored four times in the space of four days.
Big central defender Garry Lund also got his name on the scoresheet, albeit at the wrong end. He somehow managed to turn a low pass from captain Sang-An (he had indeed returned to the action for the start of this game) towards substitute Chin-Chung into the back of his own net. Lund seemed to have been caught in two minds as to whether he should clear it or attempt a back pass. The latter, if that had ever been his intention, had seemed very risky from that range, and he got way too much on the ball for the ‘keeper to deal with. Not that it mattered, as the goal meant nothing but mere consolation.
After their goal, the Chinese kept coming forward in search for more, and they heaped some pressure on the home defence, which didn’t always look too comfortable. However, after Adshead had made a double substitution, bringing both Malcolm Dunford and Nigel Debenham into action, they were slowly regaining the upper hand, and rather than run the risk of conceding again, it was they who looked the more likely to score towards the end of the game. Rufer had moved into a forward role, and found time yet to waste another couple of chances before time was up. Despite his lack of accuracy in front of goal, it was said of him that his fast-thinking and ditto acting often happened too quickly for opponents and team mates alike.
Despite it not always being a well-coordinated effort defensively, New Zealand had produced plenty of goalscoring opportunities, and so their win ought to have been by a greater margin. Still, that was immaterial to the management, as the New Zealand team had safely secured their passage through to the group stage, where they would come up against much sterner opposition in the form of Israel and old foes Australia. That, though, lay nearly three months ahead still.