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No such thing as friendly

Nelsen’s side take on Honduras tonight at Auckland’s North Harbour Stadium before meeting Paraguay in Wellington on Tuesday night.
The Blackburn Rovers defender says the Kiwis are approaching today’s clash in anything but a friendly frame of mind.
“It’s an extremely important game. They use the word friendly because FIFA decide to use it, it’s as simple as that,” he says.
“I’ve spoken to the guys in the Paraguay team and they take it deadly serious as well, because these nations have millions of supporters and a demanding media and if they lose they will get pelted. I assume we will too, so we want to win,” Nelsen says.
“I think the New Zealand public get caught up in the term ‘friendly’ because they don’t hear it in rugby when in fact it is the same as the All Blacks playing Scotland before the Tri-Nations.”
Nelsen is clear about the quality within the Honduras and Paraguay teams.
“They’re very good sides, they’re very skilful. They’re full of Premiership players. I think people will realise that there’s not many opportunities for football fans, or even sporting fans in general, to see these types of athletes.
Coach Ricki Herbert has indicated that he will stick with the majority of players that spearheaded the unbeaten World Cup campaign for his starting line-ups, although injuries to Tony Lochhead, Tommy Smith and, for the Honduras game at least, Rory Fallon would force some reshuffling.
“I don’t think there’s as massive reason to change,” Herbert says.
“We haven’t been together since the World Cup so a little bit of continuity will help going into that first match. It’s not about form at the moment – it’s about getting the group back and performing in front of our home fans.
“It’s a great opportunity. We had fantastic support over in South Africa and there’s no reason we can’t get it here.”
ASB International Series
New Zealand v Honduras
North Harbour Stadium, Auckland
Saturday, October 9, 7.30pm kick-off
New Zealand v Paraguay
Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Tuesday, October 12, 7.30pm kick-off
Adult ticket prices range from $39 to $55 per ticket for both venues*.
*Includes event transport to and from North Harbour stadium for tickets holders for the All Whites v Honduras match at North Harbour Stadium on key routes.
Tickets available from www.ticketek.co.nz

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