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Wood excited about Estadio Azteca challenge

New Zealand forward Chris Wood is not daunted by Wednesday’s trip to the Estadio Azteca to tackle Mexico in their World Cup play-off.

The first leg of the play-off to get into the World Cup in Brazil next year sees the All Whites head to the 105,000 capacity stadium in Mexico City, with the ground’s high altitude and expected parochial supporters the additional opponents for the visitors alongside the 11 Mexicans on the pitch.

But the Leicester City striker seemed unperturbed at the thought of playing in the volatile environment; rather he was embracing what is a unique experience.

“It’s going to be a great experience,” Wood told Fifa.com.

“We played Mexico a few years back, with over 90,000 supporters at the Rose Bowl in the USA.

“That was amazing and with more than 100,000 at this game it’ll be a great occasion and hopefully one that we can get a positive result from.”

Wood admitted Mexico were not the pick of opponents the Kiwis had in mind, heading into the final round of CONCACAF qualifying matches – but Mexico ended up fourth in their group, which put them into the intercontinental play-off with Oceania winners New Zealand.

“I was keeping across it (CONCACAF qualifying) but we can never have an effect on who we play in the next round so we didn’t really mind that much,” Wood said.

“We were hoping for Mexico to lose and for Costa Rica to win their game but Panama just couldn’t hold out for those last couple of minutes.

“At the end of the day it’s what the draw has given us so it’s going to be a tough match but I don’t see why we can’t win it.”

Wood, 21, has the capabilities to be an All Whites legend come the end of his career, as he already has 32 caps and 10 goals to his name in national colours, with nine of those goals scored in 2012 alone.

Wood also played for NZ’s Under-23 side at the London Games, appearing three times for one goal.

He said his form in scoring four goals in seven qualifying appearances so far was down to a positive mindset.

“I just think it was a bit of confidence,” Wood said, of his goalscoring form.

“Once you’re confident you keep it ticking over and the goals come. I had been a bit out of form for my country but I’m glad I’ve kicked on in the last year or two.”

Tue 12 November, 2013
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