Bahrain 0-0 New Zealand: All To Play For In AFC-OFC Qualifier After Riffa Stalemate
The All Whites will be delighted with this outcome.
New Zealand take a narrow advantage back to Wellington in their quest for the World Cup after holding on for a 0-0 draw with a Bahrain side unable to take their chances.
These sides have only made the World Cup once between them, and the nerves were evident during a cagey start to the game. It took 20 minutes for the first genuine chance of the game to occur, when Jaycee John’s long distance flew just wide.
The home side were completely in control, but chances were few and far between. Husain Ali came close when he went past Ben Segmund after a jinking run, but he could only fire into the side netting. Then, minutes before the break, Salman Isa’s strike went agonizingly wide.
It was more of the same in the second period, with Ali failing to get a shot away with just the keeper to beat immediately after the restart. Hubail and John also wasted more chances, before Sayed Mohamed Adnan’s free-kick flew over the crossbar.
Bahrain’s night was summed up on 74 minutes, when Isa finally beat Mark Paston, only to see his shot bounce back off the post. Three minutes later, Paston was in the thick of it again, saving from Hubail at point-blank range.
Thus Bahrain failed to find the back of the net despite 90 minutes of domination, giving the All-Whites a slight advantage ahead of the return leg in Wellington. However, Ricky Herbert’s men will need to show more ambition at home if they are to reach their second World Cup.