New Zealand vs. Solomon Islands
2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying| OFC Final Playoff Leg 1
Friday, Sept. 1| 2:30 a.m. CT | @NZ_Football on Twitter
QBE Stadium | Auckland, New Zealand
Sporting Kansas City midfielder James Musa could make his first senior international appearance in more than three years when New Zealand hosts the Solomon Islands in the first leg of the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) Final on Friday.
The all-important match will take place at QBE Stadium in Auckland, kicking off at 7:30 p.m. local time and 2:30 a.m. CT, with the return leg set for Tuesday at Lawson Tama Stadium in Honiara, Solomon Islands. Follow @NZ_Footballon Twitter for live updates.
The winner of the OFC Final will advance to a two-legged intercontinental playoff in November, meeting the fifth-placed South American team from CONMEBOL qualifying to battle for a 2018 FIFA World Cup berth.
Musa debuted for New Zealand’s senior team in a friendly against South Africa on May 30, 2014. The defensive midfielder hasn’t featured for the All Whites since then, but a strong showing with Sporting KC on Aug. 12 at Seattle Sounders FC — coupled with consistently solid performances for the Swope Park Rangers — resonated well with New Zealand head coach Anthony Hudson.
“James is a good player, he’s been in our environment before and we’ve been keeping track of him since then,” Hudson said earlier this month. “He’s been in touch with me for a long time, we met on our tour of the States and he’s always shown a lot desire to be given a chance, and his patience has now paid off. He’s strong, very comfortable on the ball and can play at the back and as a holding midfielder. Making his debut in MLS was nothing more than he deserves.”
Hudson also said earlier this week that Musa was likely to play a part in these FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
Musa is one of three MLS players on the current New Zealand roster, joining Minnesota United FC defender Michael Boxall and San Jose Earthquakes defender Kip Colvey. In addition, defender Deklan Wynne and forward Myer Bevan ply their trade for Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2.
All Whites captain Chris Wood notably joined Burnley of the English Premier League on Aug. 21 for an undisclosed club-record transfer fee. He marked his first appearance for the club with a stoppage-time equalizer at Tottenham Hotspur last Sunday at Wembley Stadium. The 2010 World Cup veteran has bagged 20 goals for New Zealand since debuting as a 17-year-old in 2009.
New Zealand Roster
1. Stefan Marinovic (GK), 2. Sam Brotherton, 3. Deklan Wynne, 4. Themi Tzimopoulos, 5. Michael Boxall, 6. James Musa, 7. Kosta Barbarouses, 8. Michael McGlinchey, 9. Chris Wood (C), 12. Glen Moss (GK), 13. Monty Patterson, 14. Ryan Thomas, 15. Myer Bevan, 17. Thomas Doyle, 18. Kip Colvey, 19. Alex Rufer, 21. Storm Roux, 22. Andrew Durante, 23. Oliver Sail (GK)
Coach: Anthony Hudson (ENG)
Solomon Islands Roster
1. Phillip Mango (GK), 2. Joses Nawo, 3. Robert Laua, 4. Nelson Sale, 5. Haddis Aengari, 6. Emmanuel Poila, 7. Jerry Donga, 8. Henry Fa’arodo (c), 9. Benjamin Totori, 10. Micah Lea’alafa, 11. Gagame Feni 12. Zantas Kabini (GK), 13. Richard Hiromana, 14. Clifton Aumae, 15. Jeffery Bule, 16. Michael Boso, 17. Atkin Kaua, 18. Clement Baegeni, 19. Andrew Rarangia, 20. Timothy Bakale, 22. Desmond Tutu (GK)
Coach: Felipe Vega-Arango Alonso (ESP)