New Zealand’s dream of reaching the Confederations Cup semi-finals came to an end on Wednesday, but the All Whites still hope to record their first ever win at the showpiece tournament.
That will be a tall order considering that they will be up against Euro 2016 champions Portugal, who need a win to secure their place in the next stage.
New Zealand were pretty disappointing in the build up to the 2017 Confederations Cup, having struggled even against weak Oceania side.
Two 1-0 defeats in final warm-up games were enough to suggest the All Whites were in for a very difficult task, and they were then soundly beaten by hosts Russia in the tournament opener.
New Zealand, however, managed to show a great deal of improvement in their second group game, although they eventually had to settle for a narrow defeat.
Star striker Chris Wood first missed a glorious opportunity to open the score before making things right after a defence-splitting pass from Clayton Lewis just before the half-time break.
The All Whites defender valiantly in the second period, but Mexico still managed to score two goals, inflicting Anthony Hudson’s side with their second defeat of the tournament.
Following such a good performance, the head coach is unlikely to make any changes for the Portugal clash, as he hopes counter-attacking approach will finally produce desired results.
Probable starting line-up (5-3-2): Marinovic – Ingham, Boxall, Durante, Smith, Wynne – McGlinchey, Lewis, Thomas – Rojas, Wood.
Portugal were probably the only top side to arrive in Russia with a full-strength squad, so no wonder the Selecao were tipped to impress on their first ever Confederations Cup appearance.
The Euro 2016 holders were in fine form in their opening fixture, twice taking the lead against Mexico, but eventually had to settle for a 2-2 draw.
Portugal then faced another difficult task against hosts Russia, but the early goal scored by Cristiano Ronaldo helped a great deal.
The Selecao later had few more good chances to double the lead, but they also suffered some scares in the final 30 minutes as Russia stepped up their game.
The good news is that Portugal will secure a semi-final appearance by defeating New Zealand and they are priced at 1/10 to claim maximum points.
Full-back Raphael Guerreiro is out with a suspected leg fracture, meaning that Eliseu will assume the position on the left hand side.
Probable starting line-up (4-4-2): Patricio – Cedric, Pepe, Jose Fonte, Eliseu – Bernardo Silva, William, Adrien Silva, Quaresma – Nani, Ronaldo.