Herbert hails New Zealand's greatest ever victory

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Warm-up games are meant to provide teams a chance to experiment with tactics and personnel but New Zealand's latest friendly victory could be considered their greatest ever, according to coach Ricki Herbert.

"For us it's a fantastic result, it's the best we've ever had in the history of the game, to beat a team at that level," Herbert told the New Zealand Press Association after the win over the 15th ranked Serbians in Klagenfurt.

The result was all the more impressive as it was achieved without vice-captain Tim Brown, who underwent surgery on a fractured shoulder last week, and key striker Chris Killen, who was getting married in England.

"It's showing the depth of the squad," Herbert said. "We're always likely to score now, whoever we play."

Shane Smeltz bagged the winning goal in the 22nd minute of a game that required stand-in Serbia captain Nemanja Vidic to appeal for calm over a microphone after fans rioted during the second-half.

New Zealand are considered outsiders to progress past the opening stage of the June 11-July 11 World Cup in South Africa having been drawn with holders Italy, Paraguay and Slovakia in Group F but Herbert thinks people will now be wary.

"I think around the world it's probably going to send a few little messages," he added.

(Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; Editing by John O'Brien)