All Whites midfielder Sarpreet Singh has turned to the man who helped coach New Zealand's biggest MMA star Israel Adesanya, to help give him a fighting chance of making the crucial World Cup play-off next month.
The 23-year-old has been out of action since early April with a groin injury.
After treatment in Germany and Austria, Singh returned home to Auckland to work with team strength and conditioning coach Sunz Singh.
"I'm improving. It's a very niggly injury, you don't know exactly how it's going to get better or how long it's going to take to get better," he told 1News.
"With Covid it's not been so easy, I didn't come home for a whole year and I knew I couldn't play any more games back in Regensburg and the best thing I could do was to rest."
The All Whites will name their squad to travel to Qatar next Tuesday for June's do-or-die match against Costa Rica.
And Sunz Singh is quietly confident the midfielder will be on the plane.
"We've had a massive improvement in terms of strength, so that's a positive sign for Sarpreet."
The coach has also been in the corner of top MMA fighters Israel Adesanya and Kai Kara-France.
He says there's plenty the footballers can take from the UFC star's success.
"One thing Izzy said when he first got the belt was 'it's not an 8-week camp. It's an 8-year camp'.
"So that's one thing I'll pass on to these boys. It's a marathon, not a sprint. You've got to keep your foot on the pedal because when that moment comes, you need to be ready to take it. And it's just single moments that can change your life."