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NZ do their homework on Northern Ireland

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 1/06/2017

If the All Whites have one advantage over Northern Ireland it could be on the scouting front, captain Chris Wood believes.

Leeds United striker Wood acknowledges his 96th-ranked New Zealand side are firm outsiders to beat world No.28 Northern Ireland in Belfast on Friday.

The first of three matches before their Confederations Cup campaign, the All Whites will need to combat an expected crowd of 17,000 at the intimate Windsor Park venue.

Wood believes Northern Ireland will know little about his team but the opposite can't be said.

He is familiar with many of his opponents through his time in the English club scene.

Coach Anthony Hudson has also spent his spare hours analysing how to topple the hosts.

"Our Gaffer is someone who has done a lot of homework. He is someone who studies teams to make sure we are ready and know our opposition inside out," Wood said.

"All of our team know about Northern Ireland's team but I don't know if all of the Northern Ireland team could say that about us Kiwis. They go into a bit of the unknown with us but we will be ready for them."

Wood is looking forward to locking horns with Leeds United team-mate Stuart Dallas, who he expects to be influential in the Northern Ireland midfield.

Wood, who claimed the Golden Boot with 27 goals in the second-tier Championship in England, was looking forward to playing for his country close to his home base for once.

"I have been crying out for a European game for all of my All Whites career.

"It is good that it is against a great team. It will be a great occasion and we will be ready for it."

Hudson says the match represents an ideal build-up for the Confederations Cup.

It won't be a place for experimenting.

"We want to get a result. We are not here to try things out and test things out."

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