You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Hudson low-key over All Whites win

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 28/03/2017 Cathy Walshe

All Whites coach Anthony Hudson was happy enough to tick off another win over Fiji as his team moved a step closer to the next year's World Cup in Russia.

But while quietly satisfied, the 36-year-old Englishman wasn't about to go overboard with the celebrations - he knows how much work still needs to be done.

The 2-0 win in Wellington on Tuesday replicated the scoreline from the first leg in Lautoka two days earlier, and means the Kiwis are through to the next stage of Oceania World Cup qualifying.

Hudson was able to give more of his squad game time, and the results were encouraging - the Kiwis dominated possession and created plenty of chances.

But at the final whistle only two of those had been converted, young midfielder Ryan Thomas backing up his first-half strike with a 68th minute header to see the Kiwis home in clinical fashion.

It was a vastly improved showing on last year's Oceania Nations Cup, where they were pushed to a penalty shoot-out before beating Papua New Guinea.

"We were a lot better with the ball, a lot more dominant in possession," Hudson said.

"The mentality of the group and the work ethic was very, very good over both games."

New Zealand are now through to the final home-and-away Oceania qualifying series in September, most probably against Tahiti.

But Hudson's focus is centred firmly the Confederations Cup in June, where they will meet hosts Russia, Mexico and Portugal in pool play.

"The squad's in a good place, but we have so much work to do between now and then in terms of preparation," Hudson said.

"The key for us, as a smaller nation in that tournament, is we have to be fitter than all the teams we play against.

"We have to be, as a starting point."

With that in mind, Hudson had no hesitation in releasing captain Chris Wood after the in-form Leeds United striker took a knock in the back during the Lautoka match.

"I didn't want to take any risks with him, especially at this stage of the season," he said.

"With the squad we had, I felt we had enough to deal with the second game. It's a decision I felt was right for the team."

Hudson now refocuses ahead of selecting his 23-strong squad to contest warm-up matches against Belarus and Northern Ireland before going on to the Confederations Cup.

"It's a really good position to be in. Now I have a period of time to keep watching players, and then I'll make some decisions."

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon