Soccer-Son of All Blacks great Kirwan scores winner for New Zealand

(Reuters) - New Zealand defender Niko Kirwan stepped out of his father's shadow to net the winner in the All Whites' 1-0 defeat of Bahrain in a friendly on Tuesday.

The son of rugby great John Kirwan, who played 63 times for New Zealand's All Blacks, Niko came on as a second-half substitute to head home a cross from Liberato Cacace in the 89th minute for his first international goal.

It was the Italy-based 26-year-old's second New Zealand appearance after making his debut in Sunday's 2-1 win over Curacao.

"It's unreal," said Kirwan.

"I was already so happy to get called up and really keen to show (coach) Danny (Hay) and the staff what I'm capable (of) but you would never think that we would come away with two wins and especially the goal."

The Bahrain and Curacao matches were New Zealand's first since late-2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

New Zealand, bidding to reach their third World Cup and first since 2010, are expected to play their Oceania qualifiers in March in 2022 host nation Qatar.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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