All Whites look to bounce back

All Whites Chris Wood and All Whites Goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic. FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017, Russia v New Zealand, Saint Petersburg Stadium Russia, Saturday 17th June 2017. Shane Wenzlick / www.phototek.nz

All Whites goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic says the team remains firm in its belief they can compete with the world’s best teams at the FIFA Confederations Cup.

The OFC Nations Cup Champions, who were beaten 2-0 by Russia in the opening match of the tournament in St Petersburg in a tough physical encounter, were back into training today as they prepare to face World No 17 Mexico in Sochi on Wednesday night (Thursday morning NZT).

Marinovic, a standout performer for New Zealand in the match where Russia peppered his goal from the outset, was asked in today’s press conference if the side still had belief in their ability.

“Of course it is still there,” said the 25-year-old who plays for German club SpVgg Unterhaching.  “No one in this team is negative and never has been. That is one thing that if you want to be in the All Whites, you need to have that belief. You need to always be positive… you want to be here. If you have got a negative attitude then you don’t deserve to be here.”

Deklan Wynne, a consistent performer for the All Whites at left wing-back, said it was a difficult start to face a highly-motivated Russian team who attacked relentlessly in the opening 20 minutes. He said the group was still upbeat and positive about the challenge ahead.

“There is a lot of belief in this team,” he said. “We won’t give up that is how us Kiwis are. We go into this next game with the same determination. We will play our hearts out again.”

All Whites midfielder Marco Rojas attempts to get past Aleksandr Erokhin of Russia. Photo: FIFA via Getty Images

Marinovic said the big positive from the game was the team never gave up and created two great goal scoring chances to Ryan Thomas and Tommy Smith in the final stages of the game.

“We fought right until the very end. That defines our team. We want to take that [mentality] into the next game,” said Marinovic.

The All Whites face Mexico on Wednesday night at Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi.  The World No 17 drew 2-2 with World No 8 and one of the tournament favourites Portugal tonight in Kazan.

Marinovic said the performance last October in Nashville when they went down 2-1 to Mexico showed they are capable of upsetting the Juan Carlos Osorio managed team.

The Auckland-born stopper feels like Mexico is an opposition that suit the World No 95 All Whites.

“We can definitely get a result against them. We were a bit unlucky in that game. I felt that we played well enough to get a result. So everything is in it for that game. We are going for three points.

“Thinking about that game in October and running through it in my brain, I felt their style of play gave us a little bit of an advantage. The way we played created a lot of chances for us so I don’t see why that can’t be the same this time around.

Wynne expected that Mexico will present an entirely different challenge in their second game.

“A different opponent, they won’t be as physical as Russia were,” said the 22-year-old who plays for the Vancouver Whitecaps.  “They are a team who likes to keep the ball which will allow us to put them under pressure and get in their half like we did in the last game. I think their style suits us a bit more because Russia were quite direct at times. Mexico won’t be as direct so hopefully we can put them under pressure and create a few chances.”

Wynne said they were under no illusions coming into this tournament. They know they are competing against the best teams in the world and want to measure how good they are with FIFA World Cup qualifying in mind.

“We knew these games were always going to be tough. We don’t often get to play against big teams but these game are an opportunity for us to learn and keep improving.”

When asked if it was intimidating for New Zealand to face the might of Mexico and Portugal within a week Marinovic said “Not very” with his customary laugh.

“We will take it one game at a time and got into each game with the same desire and fight to win. We can’t think of it as a package deal. We focus on Mexico and then it is Portugal. First job Mexico.

“Like everyone in the team we are disappointed that we didn’t get a result in the first game but we shake it off and we move onto the next one.”

2017 FIFA Confederations Cup – All Whites draw
21 June 9pm (6am 22 June NZT) v Mexico Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi
24 June 6pm (3am 25 June NZT) v Portugal, Krestovsky Stadium, St Petersburg
Live on SKY Sport

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