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All Whites see superior fitness as key

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 5/06/2017

New Zealand will be Oceania's representatives in the tournament in Russia, where their pool also includes their hosts, Mexico and Portugal. © Charles McQuillan/Getty Images New Zealand will be Oceania's representatives in the tournament in Russia, where their pool also includes their hosts, Mexico and Portugal. The All Whites hope superior fitness will help to bridge the gap in technical ability when they come up against some formidable opposition in soccer's Confederations Cup.

New Zealand will be Oceania's representatives in the tournament in Russia, where their pool also includes their hosts, Mexico and Portugal.

Defender Michael Boxall says their conditioning is one thing they're working on in their build-up, which continues with a match against Irish second-tier club Cabinteely in Dublin on Wednesday (NZT).

"Because we're coming up against such top quality teams, there are areas where they will definitely be better than us," he said.

"So we have to outwork everyone when we come on the pitch."

Boxall said that attitude had stood the All Whites in good stead over the past couple of years.

"Where we've outworked the opposition, we've come out with a result or really pushed to the limit," he said.

"We just need to step up the intensity and be able to hold that for 90 minutes."

Now with South African club SuperSport United, the former Wellington Phoenix player has 23 caps to his name, the last gained in the 1-0 defeat to Northern Ireland in Belfast at the weekend.

With Portugal being New Zealand's last pool opponents, Boxall faces the prospect of trying to shackle one of the game's superstars on June 25 (NZT).

The European champions' squad features prolific striker Cristiano Ronaldo, fresh from a two-goal performance in Real Madrid's 4-1 European Champions League final victory over Juventus.

"It will be pretty cool to share a field with him," Boxall said.

"When you see world-class defenders struggling to keep him off the scoresheet, you know you know you're going to have your hands full so we'll have to be ready for that."

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