24 Mar 2017

All Whites must dominate on their road to Russia

3:45 pm on 24 March 2017

The All Whites coach Anthony Hudson wants his side to dominate the rest of the Oceania World Cup qualifying series as they work towards next year's tournament in Russia.

Anthony Hudson and Tommy Smith talk at All Whites training.

Anthony Hudson and Tommy Smith talk at All Whites training. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Hudson has managed to get his best possible side together for games against Fiji over the next few days.

The squad has been in Wellington this week preparing for Saturday's first game in Lautoka with the return leg in Wellington on Tuesday.

The New Zealanders will need two wins against Fiji over the next few days to make sure they progress to the next stage, which will be against the winner of the other Oceania group.

The side is favoured to win the Oceania qualification series, but sometimes they've made it hard for themselves.

Hudson has made it a mission to banish the underdog mindset from his side and veteran striker Shane Smeltz says they go into the this weekend's match as overwhelming favourites and rightly so.

All Whites striker Shane Smeltz.

All Whites striker Shane Smeltz. Photo: Photosport

"I don't think there's anything we need to be too concerned about, the destiny is in out own hands."

"If we're relaxed that's probably the thing that can hurt us, but if you've spoken to the gaffer (Hudson) that's not going to happen, we're going to make sure we get the right result."

Dominate has been the buzz word mentioned in camp this week.

Forward Marco Rojas says New Zealand should be winning matches like this comfortably.

"The most important things is winning the games and dominating from the first minute to the last minute, using these games to obviously get the points for the World Cup qualifying but to also use the games as a springboard to the games against better opposition."

"Hopefully in these next two games you'll see a more dominant New Zealand side."

All White Marco Rojas at training.

All White Marco Rojas at training. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Coach Anthony Hudson says winning this series is very much about them rather than their opposition.

While there isn't much video on Fiji, Hudson says they've done as much home work as they can.

"It is about us, but we've got to have the right mentality for it to be about us."

"We want to go and win the games, there's no two ways about it, we've prepared for this tour like we've prepared for no other since I've been here, even Mexico, even other Nations Cup, so this is how important it is for us."

While the All Whites have managed to draw on players from Leagues right around the world, the same can't be said for Fiji.

Their French coach Christophe Gamel took over the Fiji job in December, he knows it will be difficult for his side.... a group of amateurs coming up against professionals....

"If I says it is not impossible, you never hear about a coach who thinks he cannot do it... there is a big gap between the expectation here and the reality on the field."

But on the field in Lautoka and with the local conditions, the Fijians have a chance.

Defender Tommy Smith says playing in the islands is never easy.

With the exception of a couple of injured players including captain Winston Reid..... all of New Zealand's best made themselves available for these games.

Smith, who plays for Ipswich Town player says with the Confederations Cup coming up, the players have everything to play for.

"For us players every game is important because we want to be putting ourselves in the window to stay in the squad and impress the gaffer to stay in the squad with the big tournament in June which everyone wants to be a part of so everyone is fighting tooth and nail for those places.

A win against Fiji over the two legs will put them into the Oceania final and win that and there's a game against the fifth placed team from South America... at the moment thats Argentina.

The return game against Fiji is in Wellington on Tuesday.