Wood excited by PNG challenge

New Zealand national team captain Chris Wood believes the All Whites will need to quickly adjust to the conditions in Papua New Guinea if they want to challenge for regional supremacy at the OFC Nations Cup.

The 24-year-old, who was the youngest member of New Zealand’s 2010 FIFA World Cup squad in South Africa, says playing in the Oceania region is never easy.

“Island football is something you can only experience yourself, people usually don’t realise how difficult it can be until they try it.

“With the heat and the pitches it’s totally different from everything you experienced before as a professional,” Wood says.

“You have to adjust to it and take different measures, but it’s always a great campaign and I’m looking forward to it.”

The Leeds United striker believes the current All Whites squad assembled by coach Anthony Hudson has a bright future.

“This team can go very far if we stick together,” he says.

“We have a lot of young players coming through and if they get moulded by the right manager, which I think we have, we will go very far in the next four to five years.”

The All Whites skipper insists the upcoming Nations Cup, which doubles as the second qualifying round for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, provides his side with a huge opportunity to make a mark on the international stage.

“It’s the biggest tournament in Oceania and it’s massively important because the Confederations Cup lies at the end of it,” Wood says.

“We need to go to PNG with the right mindset; we have to be ready to take on some tough teams.”

The All Whites will travel to Brisbane on Saturday for a training camp where they will play three games against local club sides.

Wood, who has earned 39 caps for New Zealand and scored 14 goals in the process, says the camp will be a vital part of the team’s Nations Cup preparations.

“It will be great to bond together because we never see each other, maybe just once or twice in a season, which is not enough.

“We need to know each other more in order to get that understanding,” he says.

“Especially with a young team like this, we need to find out what people are like, how they play and that will help us to click on the pitch.”

New Zealand will open their 2016 OFC Nations Cup campaign against Fiji on May 28.

Press Release