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Friendlies 2
Oct 13, 2023 at 5pm UK
Westpac Stadium

New Zealand
1 - 1
Congo DR

Wood (90+1' pen.)
Pijnaker (90+3')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Bakambu (46')
Diangana (68')

Preview: New Zealand vs. Congo DR - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: New Zealand vs. Congo DR - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Friday's friendly clash between New Zealand and Congo DR, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

New Zealand and Congo DR will both kick off their European trips on Friday, when they meet in an international friendly in Spain.

The All Whites were last in action in a friendly against Sweden in June, while their opponents lost to South Africa last month after a positive start to Africa Cup of Nations qualifying earlier this year.

Match preview

New Zealand return to action on Friday for the first time since June as they travel to Spain and continue a run of friendlies, having most recently played competitive football in 2022.

That was in World Cup qualifying, as they put up five consecutive wins on the continent, taking three points from each of their group games and progressing past Tahiti and Solomon Islands in the semi-final and final of Oceanian qualifying respectively to book an inter-confederation playoff place last June.

Only Costa Rica stood between the All Whites and the World Cup group stage, but they would fall just short in Qatar, missing out on a place in the global competition as they suffered a 1-0 defeat with Joel Campbell's early goal making the only difference.

Then following back-to-back friendly defeats to rivals Australia, New Zealand would head into a new era as manager Danny Hay departed and was replaced by Darren Bazeley, who began his tenure with a goalless draw and a 2-1 victory in two meetings with China in March, before they most recently took on Sweden in Stockholm and eventually succumbed to a 4-1 defeat, despite going ahead through Callum McCowatt, as Jesper Karlsson went on to score a brace for the hosts alongside goals from Robin Quaison and Anthony Elanga.

Now heading into friendlies against Congo DR and Australia this month before taking on Greece and Republic of Ireland in November, New Zealand will bid to return to winning ways in Murcia on Friday.

They meet a Congo DR side who have been in action more recently in September and will look to build momentum ahead of the commencement of their World Cup qualifying bid next month.

Following a difficult CAF African Nations Championship campaign at the beginning of the new year, the Leopards turned their focus back to Africa Cup of Nations qualifying and sealed top spot in their group and a place in the continental competition with four consecutive victories, culminating in consecutive 2-0 triumphs over Gabon and Sudan in June and September respectively, with Aaron Tshibola and Fiston Mayele getting on the scoresheet away from home in the former.

Theo Bongonda and Mayele then fired them to a home triumph in the latter to see Sebastien Desabre's side pip Mauritania to top spot in their group and book a spot in the tournament early next year.

On the back of that triumph, Congo DR then travelled to South Africa most recently for a friendly, but they were unable to make it six straight wins in all competitions, eventually suffering a 1-0 defeat as Lyle Foster netted the only goal of the game in the 25th minute.

Now with the Africa Cup of Nations to build towards and a new World Cup qualifying campaign beginning in November, as they bid to reach the world stage for the first time since 1974, Desabre's men will look to build confidence with victories in their pair of friendlies against New Zealand and Angola in October.

New Zealand friendly form:

New Zealand form (all competitions):

Congo DR friendly form:

Congo DR form (all competitions):

Team News

New Zealand have called up a full-strength squad for their European trip, and their line will be led by captain Chris Wood, who boasts 70 caps and 33 international goals.

There is competition from the likes of Ben Waine, Callum McCowatt, Elijah Just, Alex Greive and Joe Champness to join the Nottingham Forest front man in the front three, while Matthew Garbett and Marko Stamenic will likely play key roles in midfield from the outset in the absence of Marco Rojas, Clayton Lewis and Joe Bell.

Michael Boxall is a mainstay at centre-back and should again be joined by Bill Tuiloma with 50-capped Tommy Smith expected to settle for a place on the bench.

Sebastien Desabre has called up an experienced Congo DR squad for their pair of October friendlies, although Brentford attacker Yoane Wissa has not been included, with fellow Premier League players Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu and Samuel Bastien also out of the squad.

Without Wissa, their line will be led by key man Cedric Bakambu, who has netted 15 goals in his 43 international caps at the age of 32 years old, while Theo Bongonda could again be given the nod on the right wing after scoring in their last two Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, with Silas Mvumpa, Meschak Elia and Grady Diangana all vying for attacking spots.

Elsewhere, Samuel Moutoussamy and Edo Kayembe should partner up in the engine room, while captain Chancel Mbemba will return in the middle of the defence as he looks to build on his tally of 70 international caps, 11 short of Congo DR's all-time leader Issama Mpeko.

New Zealand possible starting lineup:
Woud; Pijnaker, Boxall, Tuiloma, Cacace; Stamenic, Garbett, Singh; Waine, Wood, McCowatt

Congo DR possible starting lineup:
Mpasi; Kalulu, Mbemba, Baka, Masuaku; Kayembe, Moutoussamy; Bongonda, Tshibola, Silas; Bakambu

We say: New Zealand 1-2 Congo DR

Even without several key men, Congo DR have plenty of quality throughout their squad, and on the back of a dominant campaign with World Cup Qualifying to build towards, we fancy them to come out on top against the All Whites in Spain.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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