14 Nov 2013

Smith to captain All Whites

6:42 am on 14 November 2013

The Ipswich Town defender Tommy Smith will captain the All Whites in their opening football World Cup qualifier against Mexico in Mexico City this morning.

Smith will lead the side in the absence of injured West Ham defender Winston Reid.

Coach Ricki Herbert has gone for a generally predictable lineup in naming Glen Moss in goal, with Smith, Ivan Vicelich and Andrew Durante as defenders.

Jeremy Christie will start in the midfield alongside Michael McGlinchey, Leo Bertos and Tony Lochhead while Jeremy Brockie, Chris Wood and Kosta Barbarouses are up front.

Among the reserves are Shane Smeltz, Rory Fallon and Marco Rojas.

Mexican coach Miguel Herrera says he'll seek to exploit New Zealand's loss of its captain and central defender Winston Reid, who was ruled out of the two-match series with an ankle injury suffered while training with his English Premier League club West Ham United.

The outspoken manager says his squad can win at home and in the return leg in New Zealand next week despite only calling up players from the domestic league and leaving out European-based stars, including Manchester United's Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez and Villareal's Giovani dos Santos.

Meanwhile, experts have warned Mexico that missing the World Cup would cost sponsors and broadcasters more than $730 million.

After failing to qualify outright for the tournament Mexican fans have soured on their team, with 60 per cent saying in a poll last month that Mexico didn't deserve to go to the World Cup.