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NZ Confeds crown achievable: Gilberto

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 19/03/2017 Angelo Risso

Take it from Gilberto Silva.

At the Confederations Cup, anything can happen - even the All Whites lifting the trophy.

The 93-cap Brazil enforcer endured the nerviest of Confederations Cup finals in 2009, as underdogs USA went 2-0 up within half an hour.

The Selecao pegged their North American opponents back to win 3-2, but the two-time Cup winner's point stands - in a short tournament, anyone can upset anyone.

Cameroon trumped Brazil and Colombia to make the 2003 final, Japan were runners-up in 2001 and Australia reached the same stage in 1997.

So, in 2017, why not New Zealand?

"Not many people pay attention to New Zealand but they might make a surprise," the 40-year-old told Auckland reporters on Sunday.

"I hope the players have a good feeling going into competition because everybody's got a chance, it's a short competition.

"The teams going to play are there because they deserve it."

The World Cup-winner and ex-Arsenal midfielder was in the City of Sails this weekend as part of the lead up to the June tournament in Russia.

Portugal, Mexico and hosts Russia will serve as the All Whites' Group A opponents at the two-week event, with Australia drawn in Group B.

Yet the only questions on anyone's lips were about Gilberto's former English Premier League club, where he played 170 times over a trophy-laden six-year spell.

Mixing steel and panache, his "Invincibles" outfit - armed with Thierry Henry - became the first side in 115 years to complete a season unbeaten in 2003-04.

Times have been tough for the north London outfit since 2005, however, winning just two FA Cups and struggling to make inroads in the Champions League.

Top of the list of grievances amongst the Emirates Stadium faithful has been the side's lack of spine, having failed to replace Gilberto or Patrick Vieira.

A number of players have come and gone in central midfield for the Gunners, including Cesc Fabregas, Alex Song, Samir Nasri and Jack Wilshere.

Gilberto backed long-standing manager Arsene Wenger to rejuvenate the club, but admitted his departure may come sooner rather than later.

"I'm sure at some time this kind of thing will happen, but I hope the people, fans, everyone respects him as he deserves," Gilberto said.

"At some time, someone will miss him.

"The competition is massive because nowadays you see teams like (Manchester) City spend a lot of money - it's not so easy in this market."

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