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New Zealand told to embrace underdog tag ahead of World Cup qualifier

Credit: Fox Sports

The All Whites will take on Costa Rica for the Qatar World Cup’s final spot.

New Zealand manager Danny Hay has urged his side to prove their quality by beating Costa Rica on Tuesday.

The All Whites face their South American opponents in their last step toward reaching the Qatar World Cup. In case they win the game, Hay’s side will join Germany, Spain, and Japan in Group E of the tournament.

However, most observers consider Costa Rica as the favourites to win the game. Their latest FIFA ranking was 31, while their opponents sit 101st among the world’s nations.

Hay believes his side should use their underdog status as a source of strength in the upcoming game.

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“The world’s media have basically written us off, given us no chance,” Hay said at his pre-match news conference. “They’re 31 in the world playing against 101 in the world. 

“I’m sleeping pretty well. I’m not sure their coach will be, though.

“We’ve got a great group. They’re injury-free, they’re in a good space mentally, that’s why we need to seize the moment now. This really is our moment, this is our time.”

He added: “We’ll make sure that the group is strong mentally.

“New Zealand are a team that like to make things dangerous. 

“They are a team that from the back with their goalkeeper almost always playing inside, from the beginning to the last third, with one of their advantages being aerial football.”