All Whites coach Ricki Herbert will welcome back a core group of players rested and focused for today's OFC Nations Cup against New Caledonia in Honiara.
With a semi final already assured, senior players Ivan Vicelich, Chris Killen, Shane Smeltz and Ben Sigmund along with Michael McGlinchey were told not to suit up for the final pool match against the Solomon Islands on Wednesday and instead instructed to lock their sights on the semi final opponents.
"Ricki told us to freshen up for the semi, start doing everything right off the field and get our heads round that match," said McGlinchey.
"I think four days is probably the perfect amount of time to get ourselves fresh from the previous game."
"In the A-League we could never play again after two days. But here we've been backing up and the legs feel okay. I think having four days off will mean any little concerns will go out the window and we'll be ready for the semi finals."
Tony Lochhead, suspended for the final group game, would also have been rested while Herbert limited the time he gave Jeremy Brockie, Marco Rojas, Kosta Barbarouses and Leo Bertos against the Solomon Islands.
New Caledonia, who finished runners up to Tahiti in Group A, have enjoyed an extra days rest after finishing pool play and also had a group game against Samoa where they were never tested.
But Herbert says his top All Whites line up will be ready to fire and get closer to defending their continental crown.
"Hopefully all those players are really fresh," said Herbert.
"There's obviously a rationale about why we didn't play them. We've probably rested 10 players including the one that only had 45 minutes yesterday."
While that is a strong indication from Herbert on who is in his thinking for a semi final starting eleven, there are still decisions to make.
"Chris Wood and Shane Smeltz have been good. You can only look at a tournament and reflect on who's been putting the ball in the net and whilst we haven't scored a lot they've been the two to do that for us."
"It's just whether we go for three up top or play two there and play an extra midfield player.
"If New Caledonia play 4-3-3 then I think we have to win the midfield battle."
The teams last met in September 2008 in the final group matches of OFC World Cup qualifying. The All Whites clinched the OFC Nations Cup with a 3-1 win in Noumea and backed it up in Auckland a few days later with a 3-0 victory. Shane Smeltz scored twice in each win.
Meanwhile, Olympic team goalkeeper Michael O'Keefe has joined the All Whites in Honiara as cover for Mark Paston should the Phoenix stopper need to be replaced. He has not been added to the squad list.
New Zealand: 1. Mark Paston [Gk], 2. Tim Myers, 3. Tony Lochhead, 4. Ben Sigmund, 5. Tommy Smith, 6. Ian Hogg, 7. Leo Bertos, 8. Michael Mcglinchey, 9. Shane Smeltz, 10. Chris Killen, 11. Marco Rojas, 12. Glen Moss [Gk], 13. Jake Gleeson [Gk], 14. Rory Fallon, 15. Ivan Vicelich, 16. Jeremy Brockie, 17. Kosta Barbarouses, 18. Aaron Clapham, 19. Michael Boxall, 20. Chris Wood, 21. Cameron Howieson, 22. Tim Payne, 23. Adam Mcgeorge
coach: Ricki Herbert
New Caledonia: 1. Rocky Nyikeine [Gk], 2. Judikael Ixoee, 3. Emile Bearune, 4. Georges Bearune, 5. Kalaje Gnipate, 6. Olivier Dokunengo, 7. Dominique Wacalie, 8. Miguel Kayara, 9. Jacques Haeko, 10. Marius Bako, 11. Bertrand Kai, 12. Roy Kayara, 13. Noel Kaudre, 14. Dick Kauma, 16. Iamel Kabeu, 17. Joel Wakanumune, 18. Jonathan Kakou, 19. Georges Gope-Fenepej , 20. Marc Ounemoa [Gk]
coach: Alain Moizan