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Manuel Herrera faces a tough task in trying to turn the hosts around having elected to make do without overseas talent, and Al Hain-Cole expects the visitors to keep things tight

Mexico will be hoping to put one foot in next summer’s World Cup when they welcome New Zealand to the Estadio Azteca for the first leg of their intercontinental play-off on Wednesday.

El Tri are in danger of failing to qualify for the first time in over 30 years after a disastrous Concacaf campaign but are favourites at 1/5 (1.20) with Betway to earn themselves a lifeline with victory on home soil.

Having topped Oceania’s qualifying group without dropping a single point, Ricki Herbert’s men are available at 11/1 (12.00) to put themselves one step closer to a second consecutive World Cup appearance with a shock away win.

The visitors earned a 0-0 draw in a friendly against Trinidad and Tobago in their last match, and you can get odds of 11/2 (6.50) on them grabbing a share of the spoils on their next visit to North America.

While the All Whites knew all along that play-off success represents their only chance of making it to Brazil, their opponents will be far less comfortable with taking part in this fixture.

The hosts underperformed embarrassingly in qualifying, winning just two of their 10 games in the second group stage and scraping into fourth place by virtue of a late USA win over Panama in the final round of fixtures.

This poor run of results cost three coaches their jobs within the space of a month, leaving Miguel Herrera with very little time to prepare for such a crucial encounter after taking over on a temporary basis for the double header.

The pressure is on Herrera to inspire a performance from a team who have scored just three goals and picked up just one win from their last five competitive matches on home soil, and his decision to select a squad chosen purely from domestically-based players means he will have to do so without the likes of Javier Hernandez, Andres Guardado and Giovani dos Santos.

Having masterminded draws against Italy, Slovakia and Paraguay at the last World Cup thanks to a solid defensive formation, Herbert will be confident of frustrating a Mexican team in disarray, and odds of 7/5 (2.40) are well worth backing New Zealand keeping the scoreline down to under 2.5 goals.

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Under 2.5 goals for a 1pt stake at 7/5 (2.40) with Betway

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Al Hain-Cole is a Liverpool fan, experienced tipster and avid follower of European football. He specialises in accumulators and if you would like to read more from Al you can follow him on Twitter here.

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