20 Jun 2010

All Whites skipper won't play the role of underdog

6:23 pm on 20 June 2010

The All Whites captain Ryan Nelsen's refusing to play the role of underdog ahead of his side's match against reigning football world cup champions Italy tonight in South Africa.

Nelsen will lead an unchanged line-up from that which drew one all with Slovakia in their opening world cup match.

Vice captain Tim Brown's who's recovering from a fractured shoulder has been named in the reserives but is more likely to play in the final pool game against Paraguay.

While Italy are overwhelming favourites against New Zealand, who're ranked 78th in the world, Nelsen says taking a nothing to lose approach would be reckless.

Nelsen doubts his side will be overwhelmed by the situation saying they proved they're comfortable on the world cup stage against Slovakia.

Little over than a year ago, New Zealand lead Italy three times before losing 4-3 three in a warm-up to the Confederations Cup and coach Ricki Herbert says while his side will draw confidence from that it would be a mistake to read too much from it.

He says the benefit of that game is that his players know what it's like to be on the same pitch at the world champions.

Italy will be without first-choice goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who has a back injuiry.

Other matches tonight are Slovakia against Paraguay and Brazil against the Ivory Coast.