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All Whites relish underdog tag: Hudson

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 24/06/2017
Anthony Hudson. © Alexander Nemenov/Getty Images Anthony Hudson.

All Whites coach Anthony Hudson has no problems with New Zealand being written off before they even take the field against Portugal in their final Confederations Cup pool match.

Ranked 95th in the world, the Kiwis have already been eliminated from the Cup after losing 2-0 to Russia and 2-1 to Mexico, and few have given them any chance against world No.8 Portugal.

That doesn't concern Hudson.

"People don't expect too much from us," he said in St Petersburg.

"They had written us off going into that Mexico game. I was reading that Mexico were going to beat us 3, 4 or 5-0.

"But we gave them a great challenge and we feel we deserved more from that game ... We like it when people write us off."

Portugal manager Fernando Santos has world-class players at his disposal, headlined by Cristiano Ronaldo and others, such as Nani, Pepe and Ricardo Quaresma.

Hudson knows it won't be easy, but expects his squad to be up for the challenge.

"I see this as another game that we want to approach with right mentality and we want to go into this game and get a result," he said.

While acknowledging Ronaldo's status, Hudson says that even without him, the European champions pose a serious test.

"I think he's the best in the world," Hudson said.

"You take Ronaldo out of the team, you still have some world-class players in there as well. We've seen everything has been tried and it's not one of those where if you deal with Ronaldo then that's it. They have other top players.

"We have a game plan that we're going to stick to. We're not overawed by it, we're looking forward to it."

Captain Chris Wood, who scored the opening goal gainst Mexico for his 20th international goal, said there was no lack of belief in the squad.

"It is another chance for us to play top quality opposition," the 25-year-old striker said.

"We took a great side all the way the other night and now we want to go one step better. We have the capability of doing that against Portugal - if we play like we did the other night, we will knock Portugal off."

Portugal opened the tournament with a 2-2 draw against Mexico and a 1-0 win over Russia.

Mexico and Russia meet at the same time in Kazan and tomorrow's result will determine who claims the two semi-final places and in what order.

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