New Zealand’s chances of pulling off an upset against Mexico in the World Cup playoff were dealt a substantial blow on Wednesday, when captain and West Ham defender Winston Reid was ruled out of the vital games against El Tri.
The tall 25-year-old center back – who has been linked recently with Arsenal - picked up an injury in training on Tuesday and is due to be out for at least two weeks.
“I’m devastated about missing the games with country and club but these things happen sometimes,” Reid lamented via his Twitter account.
Soccer journalist Michael Burgress, in an article in the New Zealand Herald, wrote that “Reid is not only the team's best player, he has become the heart and soul of the side over the past 18 months,” but All Whites’ coach Ricki Herbert tried to put a positive spin on the news.
“With Winston now sidelined, it presents an opportunity for other players to grasp and we will now move forward with the same levels of determination and commitment our group prides itself on,” he said in quotes published on the New Zealand federation’s website. “Every player in our squad is relishing the challenge lying ahead and, with or without Winston, the end goal remains the same.”
The first leg of the World Cup playoff between the two countries is next Wednesday on Nov. 13, with the return a week later in New Zealand.