International Friendly: New Zealand 0 South Africa 0

A youthful New Zealand side battled to a goalless draw against South Africa to banish memories of their early capitulation versus Japan.

Interim coach Neil Emblen's reign got off to a woeful start in Tokyo last month when New Zealand conceded four goals inside the opening 17 minutes of a 4-2 loss.

Friday's display showcased a more defensively resolute approach as New Zealand - whose line-up had an average age of 23 - claimed a deserved draw against a South Africa side who held FIFA World Cup-bound Australia to a 1-1 draw on Monday.

It was the hosts who enjoyed the better of the few chances on offer, with Tyler Boyd narrowly failing to connect with Chris James' dangerous free-kick in the seventh minute.

Emblen's men then spurned a presentable opportunity to take the lead in the 24th minute as Marco Rojas dragged a shot across the face of goal when well placed.

But South Africa posed a threat, too, and almost broke the deadlock just past the half-hour mark when Reneilwe Letsholonyane blasted a strike from the edge of the box against the crossbar.

Having conceded 13 goals in their last three games, New Zealand had to rely on a little bit of fortune to register a clean sheet at the Mount Smart Stadium, substitute James Musa unwittingly keeping out a goal-bound effort with his backside in the second half.

Musa was also on the receiving end of what looked to be an intentional elbow from Buhle Mkhwanazi in the closing moments but the match officials did not see the incident.


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