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

NZ prepare for Russia with Belarus clash

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 11/06/2017 Angelo Risso

All Whites boss Anthony Hudson has labelled Tuesday's friendly opponents Belarus as tactically and technically Russia-lite, with their Confederations Cup campaign drawing ever closer.

The Kiwis have touched down in Minsk ahead of their clash with the Belarusians, who are fresh off a 2-1 World Cup qualifying win over Bulgaria last weekend.

It's their last chance to blow out the cobwebs before their Confeds tilt, where they've been drawn with hosts Russia, Mexico and Portugal.

They previously fell 1-0 to Northern Ireland in Belfast, before swatting aside an Irish club outfit 5-2 in a Dublin training match.

Hudson said the challenge of Belarus, who will not be able to call upon ex-Arsenal star Alexander Hleb, would be near identical to that of first-up Cup foes Russia.

He was looking for considerable improvement on their showing in Belfast, having been in camp together for almost two weeks.

They also spent a fair chunk of their time in Dublin doing fitness work, in the hope a more atritional, physical style will pay dividends.

"In terms of their style, tactically, how they set up is quite similar, five at the back and defending very deep," Hudson said.

"We've watched them and it's a really similar test to Russia - probably not as strong, respectfully, but it's another good test.

"It's more minutes under the belt."

In-form skipper Chris Wood, who notched a league-high 27 goals in the Championship for Leeds this season, echoed many of his coach's remarks and said the Belarusians would go into the game with the wind in their sails.

But he backed his side's superior conditioning, which he felt had improved since their match against Northern Ireland, to see them through.

"It's huge, we're gearing up for the Russia game - that's the ultimate thing, to be at our peak by then, (and) this is just another stage," Wood said.

"This is why we do all those hard competitions in the (Pacific) Islands and all of that, this is what we gear up for - we want to be here.

"We've come on, from strength to strength."

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon