Durante closer to meeting All Whites criteria

SAM WORTHINGTON
Last updated 05:00 01/03/2013
Andrew Durante
CHRIS SKELTON/Fairfax NZ
ANDREW DURANTE: We've just come to the conclusion that it doesn't always have to be pretty. If it needs to go long when we're under pressure - it goes."

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Ricki Herbert and Andrew Durante could be reunited with the All Whites this month as the Wellington Phoenix captain edges closer to New Zealand citizenship.

Durante, an Australian, has lived in Wellington since 2008 and wants to play for the All Whites.

New Zealand Football high performance manager Fred de Jong said Durante's citizenship had been approved and it was a matter of obtaining the official document at a ceremony, "which should happen within a week".

NZF would then send the paperwork to Fifa and await the green light on Durante's availability.

Herbert, who departed as Phoenix coach on Monday, is expected to name an All Whites squad next week for World Cup qualifiers against New Caledonia on March 22 and Solomon Islands on March 26.

De Jong said it was possible Durante would be named with an asterisk beside his name.

NZF chief executive Grant McKavanagh said he had spoken to Herbert since his resignation and the coach remained "fired up" about his All Whites duties.

"He seemed fine from my point of view," McKavanagh said.

"We didn't really get too much into the Nix conversation . . . but absolutely, he's fired up and it's a big year. The silver lining to this cloud for us is that Ricki will have a better chance to focus on the All Whites in such an important year."

Despite Herbert's wretched season with the Phoenix, McKavanagh said he had complete confidence in his abilities to guide the All Whites to another World Cup.

"Oh, absolutely, and that's the difference, I think, between coaching what I would call tournament play versus coaching league play. Rick knows what he needs to do to win games in these sort of situations and there's different styles of football which are played . . . I'm absolutely confident that Rick has the ability to get the team together and do the job."

He said Herbert would be able to spend more time tracking the form of New Zealand players and also scouting potential Concacaf opponents for the intercontinental playoff in November.

"We've got access to all the Concacaf playoff games so he'll have a good chance to study and review those games. I suppose it's really about having clear space to consider the strategy without other things going on."

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- The Dominion Post

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