Confederations Cup: All Whites will continue to press in their bid to impress against Mexico

All Whites midfielder Bill Tuiloma pushes up to apply pressure on Russian counterpart Dennis Glushakov in the opening ...
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All Whites midfielder Bill Tuiloma pushes up to apply pressure on Russian counterpart Dennis Glushakov in the opening match of the Confederations Cup.

Press to impress.

It remains a key motto for the All Whites as they get set to continue their Confederations Cup campaign against familiar foes Mexico in Sochi on Wednesday (Thursday NZ time).

After a 2-0 loss to hosts Russia first up, 95th-ranked New Zealand are left needing an upset result against the world's 17th-best team to keep hopes of achieving their major goal alive.

Tommy Smith captained New Zealand in the 2013 World Cup playoff tie against Mexico.
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Tommy Smith captained New Zealand in the 2013 World Cup playoff tie against Mexico.

The Kiwi side want to be the country's first senior team to reach the knockout stages of a major Fifa tournament. That now requires at least a draw with El Tri, but more likely a shock victory given European champions Portugal are the other team in the group.

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Mexico were jubilant after scoring a 91st-minute equaliser to claim a 2-2 draw with Portugal in their first game of the ...
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Mexico were jubilant after scoring a 91st-minute equaliser to claim a 2-2 draw with Portugal in their first game of the tournament.

Pushing high up the field to apply pressure when their opposition have the ball is a key pillar of All Whites coach Anthony Hudson's game plan.

While effective if done well, successfully implementing the tactic proved difficult against Russia last weekend and that could be just as tricky, if not more so, against a skillful and fast Mexican side littered with world-class talent.

Experienced defender Tommy Smith happily acknowledged pulling off a good press was a crucial part of their focus for the match at the Fisht Olympic Stadium.

"That is part of our game plan," said the 27-year-old centre-back who captained New Zealand in 5-1 and 4-2 defeats to Mexico in the World Cup intercontinental playoff in 2013.

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"Anyone that's watched us over our last few games will see that we like to press and that will be no different against Mexico. We like to think if we can win the ball higher up the pitch it will create better opportunities for us to score.

"We [also] know they can be dangerous if you give them time and space on the ball, so we're going to look to stop them from [having] that."

Whether through their body language or their words, there was no hiding the All Whites disappointment with the result against Russia.

Having watched the game back later that night, Smith said they hadn't played as badly as it initially felt, interestingly going as far as evaluating it as the best performance of their tour so far.

There had also been plenty of noise out of the New Zealand camp about how well they played in pushing Mexico in a 2-1 defeat in October last year.

It is worth noting just six of the 23-man Mexican group for that game are involved in the current squad, with several of their Europeans stars not featuring.

Smith wasn't part of the Kiwi side on that day but had no doubt the All Whites could take plenty of confidence from that performance.

"Obviously they are a very good team ... [but] we've played against them a number of times over the last few years, we know their style play.

"We know it will be difficult but we think we can match [them] and have a game plan for them as well."

The key, however, is implementing that well enough to spring the upset they are after.

There can be little doubt doing so will require not only a huge step up in execution from the loss to Russia, but a ton of toil and desire.

Two things Smith was confident the All Whites would not fail to produce.

"We need to win this game now, it's our Cup final really.

"If we don't win this game, or we lose, that is probably it for the tournament. We need to do all we can to get the three points."

CONFEDERATIONS CUP - NEW ZEALAND V MEXICO

Where: Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi
When: Thursday, 6am kickoff (NZ time)

NEW ZEALAND: Stefan Marinovic, Tamati Williams, Glen Moss, Andrew Durante, Thomas Doyle, Storm Roux, Michael Boxall, Kip Colvey, Themi Tzimopoulos, Deklan Wynne, Sam Brotherton, Tommy Smith, Dane Ingham, Bill Tuiloma, Clayton Lewis, Michael McGlinchey, Ryan Thomas, Marco Rojas, Alex Rufer, Chris Wood (c), Monty Patterson, Shane Smeltz, Kosta Barbarouses

MEXICO: Rodolfo Cota, Guillermo Ochoa, Alfredo Talavera, Oswaldo Alanis, Nestor Araujo, Rafael Marquez, Hector Moreno, Diego Reyes, Luis Reyes, Carlos Salcedo, Jonathan Dos Santos, Andres Guardado, Hector Herrera, Miguel Layun, Javier Aquino, Giovani Dos Santos, Marco Fabian, Juergen Damm, Javier Hernandez, Raul Jimenez, Hirving Lozano, Oribe Peralta, Carlos Vela

 - Stuff

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