Assistant coach Neil Emblen says only a place in the 2014 World Cup finals will make up for the pain of the All Whites' June loss to New Caledonia.
New Zealand get their chance to exact revenge for that Oceania Nations Cup 2-0 semi-final defeat when they play New Caledonia in Noumea in a World Cup qualifier on Friday.
Bereft of some gunpowder, the All Whites were stunned in Honiara. But Emblem and head coach Ricki Herbert have all their big guns assembled for this assignment, with Ryan Nelsen, Chris Wood, Winston Reid and Tommy Smith flying in from England for this crucial phase that includes hosting the Solomon Islands at North Harbour Stadium on Tuesday week.
'It's hurt all of us big-time,' Emblen said of the Honiara disaster that cost the All Whites a place in the Confederations Cup and a $1.3 million payout.
But it's pride and a place in Brazil in two years' time that's the motivator now.
'I think the only way we can put that whole Honiara experience to bed is when we hopefully reach the 2014 World Cup.
"We want to use that negative, that bitter feeling of how that felt, to really go and do the job properly and professionally in these next six, hopefully eight games.'
The extra two games Emblen refers to involve the Oceania winner going on to contest a two-legged intercontinental playoff against a North or Central American nation for a place at the 2014 World Cup finals.
But first there is this Oceania qualifying business and, after performing so well at the last World Cup finals in South Africa, the heat is on New Zealand to rule this part of the Pacific again.
Hence the heavyweight look to this All Whites squad.
'It's very important to bring our best players over.
"They are all players who want to go to another World Cup, they have all tasted that a couple of years ago.
"What a feeling, what an experience that was for them and everybody is just desperate to get back there,' Emblen said.
While there is no lack of respect for New Caledonia after what happened at the last meeting, there's also a feeling that this qualifying system will be more comfortable for the All Whites. Rather than a one-off tournament on an over-used pitch in Honiara, it's a home and away series. The Noumea ground is first class, as New Zealand's O league teams have discovered.
The All Whites also have their players coming in off regular match play, even with their A-league players busily involved in pre-season work. That includes Central Coast Mariners midfielder Michael McGlinchey, who has just tangled a couple of times with New Caledonia for his club.
'Yeah, we've been pumping Michael for a bit of information,' said Emblen.
They'll access footage and it's fair to say a certain 'video nasty' from a couple of months ago will get aired. 'Look, we won't take anyone lightly, especially after what happened back in June,' said Emblen, saying New Caledonia had a good team with talented overseas- based players and plenty of flair that gave them a good attacking attitude.
While this is the first game of the next phase of qualifying, Emblen senses there will be some continuity to the All Whites.
A solid core of the team were with him in London for the Olympic Games, where New Zealand played good football with scant reward against top-class sides.
The All Whites gather in Noumea on Tuesday.
- © Fairfax NZ News