All Whites head coach Danny Hay has a nothing to lose mentality as his side prepare to take on Costa Rica for the final World Cup qualifying spot.
Hay says “the world’s media has written us off, they’ve given us no chance".
“There’s a huge amount of expectation on their shoulders.”
Despite New Zealand winning all their five matches in the Oceania World Cup qualifiers, their victories were against lower-ranked competition that included the Solomon Islands and New Caledonia.
They have since lost to Peru and drawn with Oman.
Since the last World Cup in 2018, world number 31 Costa Rica has played many more matches against higher-ranked teams, making the 101-ranked Kiwis the underdogs.
It’s not a new narrative for New Zealand teams, and it’s given Hay confidence that his team will do well without the extra outside noise.
“I’m sleeping well at night, I’m not sure their coach will be,” he says.
All Whites and Newcastle United striker Chris Wood will have a key impact on his team’s chance at success, with Hay expecting him to seize the moment.
“Woodsy steps up when it matters. He showed that at the Olympics, particularly against Japan in the quarter final. He was absolutely outstanding, cometh the moment, cometh the man,” Hay says.
“I’ve got no doubts that he will step up and perform to a really high level.”
Kiwi defender Winston Reid says playing in front of a crowd of passionate Peruvian and Costa Rican fans at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Doha will be “good for the game.”
“The games are always more fun when fans are involved. The last couple of years it hasn’t been easy for a lot of people in the world with Covid.”
“I’m just looking forward to seeing people back in the stadium.”