Knockout football is the minimum benchmark for Oly-Whites coach Neil Emblen.
After unveiling his 18-man squad for the London Olympic Games yesterday, Emblen said he is determined to take on the challenge of driving New Zealand to new-found reaches of a big international tournament.
The farthest any Kiwi men's team has even gone in a top championship is the last 16, achieved at last year's under-17 World Cup in Mexico.
With a blend of senior All Whites, including captain Ryan Nelsen and Shane Smeltz, and talented young internationals, Emblen says New Zealand has the talent to make waves in London.
"It's a strong team for an Olympic Games," Emblen said. "There's definitely the ability there to progress through the tournament and I'm confident of success if we play like I've seen these players play."
The importance of the Olympic campaign has been ratcheted since the All Whites failed to win the Oceania Nations Cup – blocking a place in next year's Confederations Cup, where they would have faced some of the best teams in the world – and in Brazil, hosts of the 2014 World Cup.
Acknowledging that increased importance, Emblen has sent a clear message to his players that the race to secure spots in the World Cup qualifying campaign begins now.
"There's a lot of players who crossover between the under-23 team and the All Whites, so it's an important part of World Cup preparation," he said. "For New Zealand football, we've got these World Cup qualifiers coming up and there's some shirts up for grabs now after what happened [at the Nations Cup].
"It's an early chance to impress and secure a place in those qualifying games, potentially even the World Cup."
Emblen also clarified the role of All Whites coach Ricki Herbert, who will be the Olympic team's technical adviser.
"It's not a case of him stepping in and taking over," he said. "Raul Blanco came away with the team for the Olympic qualifiers, I'm a young coach and only a few years into that part of my career. Lots of teams have technical advisers, Ricki's really a sounding board, someone for me to bounce ideas off.
"Ricki came and saw me and said, `Neil, I'm available to do whatever you would like me to do'. I'll be looking at Ricki to critique me ... just getting feedback off him.
"He'll be another pair of eyes. There's things we all see differently and he's an experienced pair of eyes at that. He's taken us to a World Cup, so I think it's fantastic.
"The buck stops with me and I'll live and die by how the team does. There's no hiding behind that, I want it to be that way."
The Football Ferns' 18-player squad for the Olympics will be announced on June 29.
Goalkeepers: Jake Gleeson, Michael O'Keeffe. Defenders: Ian Hogg, Tim Myers, Tommy Smith, Ryan Nelsen*, Adam Thomas, James Musa. Midfielders: Tim Payne, Michael McGlinchey*, Alex Feneridis, Cameron Howieson, Adam McGeorge. Forwards: Kosta Barbarouses, Shane Smeltz*, Chris Wood, Marco Rojas, Dakota Lucas. * selected as one of three over 23-aged players. Standby: Michael Eagar, Cameron Lindsay, Luke Rowe, Scott Basalaj
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