Wellington - New Zealand coach Anthony Hudson is looking to
confound the form book at the Confederations Cup as he continues his drive to
get his side back to Russia for next year's World Cup finals.
The All Whites have never won a game at a senior FIFA men's
tournament, their best efforts a single draw against Iraq at the 2009
Confederations Cup and three more at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Hudson is determined the Oceania champions will not go to
Russia to make up the numbers, however, as he continues to try and raise the
expectations of soccer fans in a country where rugby rules the roost.
"We are not going to Russia to take part, we are going
there to achieve something significant," the Englishman said ahead of the
opening match against hosts Russia on June 17.
"We are focused on the task at hand, we are not going
to get carried away with who we are playing, we know they are top teams but we
are a strong team and we are going there focused on ourselves and the task at
The task at hand also involves matches against Mexico, who
routed New Zealand 9-3 on aggregate in the intercontinental playoff for the
2016 World Cup finals, and then European champions Portugal.
They will be without regular captain Winston Reid, who
battled a knee injury through the last weeks of the English Premier League
season with West Ham United.
Leeds striker Chris Wood, who scored 27 goals to top the
English Championship last season, will instead captain a young side that Hudson
has been building since his appointment in 2014.
The then 33-year-old initially dumped a number of senior
internationals to give some of the younger players an opportunity to press
His planning, however, was upset when Oceania Football
Confederation (OFC) officials ruled South African-born defender Deklan Wynn was
ineligible for the under-23 side just before the final of the qualifying
tournament for the 2016 Olympics.
That led to New Zealand's disqualification and Hudson has
since been further frustrated at the lack of internationals New Zealand
Football have been able to organise, with the side playing just three games in
Their build-up this year has also been less than ideal with
just two 2-0 victories over Fiji in OFC qualifying matches in March, even if
that was enough to advance to the final round of Oceania qualifying against the
If they get through that, a playoff against the fifth best
side from the South American qualifying group awaits.
This year they have also had a 1-0 loss to Northern Ireland,
a 5-2 victory over a local club side in Dublin and then a 1-0 loss to Belarus
shortly before arriving in Russia.
Hudson, though, was still exuding the sort of confidence his
midfielder father Alan displayed in the colours of Arsenal, Stoke City, Chelsea
and England in the 1970s.
"Our preparation has been good," he said. "We
know what we are trying to achieve and we are all excited about this