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New Zealand v Portugal

New Zealand are not scared of Ronaldo and Portugal, claims Hudson

22:03 GMT+4 23/06/2017
The coach is looking forward to facing the Ballon d'Or winner, but does not think he'll get the chance to square off against Messi later this year

Bullish New Zealand boss Anthony Hudson insists his side will not be overawed by Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal on Saturday as the All Whites attempt to end an encouraging Confederations Cup showing on a high.

Consecutive defeats mean New Zealand have already been eliminated but Hudson's side have earned plenty of plaudits for the way they have pushed both Russia and Mexico in their two Group A matches.

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And the former Newport County and Bahrain manager is hoping to get some points on the board when they face the European champions in St Petersburg.

He said: "I see this as another game that we want to approach with the mindset of being organised, having the right mentality and we want to get a result.

"We're not looking up to the opposition, we could be playing whoever. We know Portugal are world class and they pose different problems to Mexico, but we are going to come to this game with the same mentality.

"This tournament is important for us, every game we can constantly review and we don't always get that luxury.

"We want to keep improving but we also know we are playing against the world's best teams and, while we will always back ourselves – there is no shred of doubt in our squad, we also need to understand there is a huge gulf in class.

"Every player will give their absolute all. We won't just try to keep the scoreline respectable, we want to come out and win the game. Not one person is overawed, we are looking forward to the game."

Hudson was asked how the All Whites will attempt to stop Cristiano Ronaldo, although reports suggest the four time Ballon d'Or winner may be rested by Fernando Santos.

The 36-year-old replied: "For me Ronaldo is the best player in the world but if you take him out you still have world class players in there.

"We've seen everything tried [to stop Ronaldo] but it's not as though if you deal with Ronaldo that's it. They still have Nani, Ricardo Quaresma in the team."

Following Saturday's game, New Zealand will turn their attention back to World Cup qualifying. They face the Solomon Islands in a two-legged Oceania qualifying final and, should they win, will then go on to the intercontinental play-offs against the fifth-placed team in South America.

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The first part of that equation should be completed without alarm, although the second looks much tougher with Argentina, and Lionel Messi, currently fifth in the CONMEBOL confederation.

Hudson, however, will approach it in his usual positive manner.

He said: "I don't think it will be Argentina [who finishes fifth] now they have the coach they have [Jorge Sampaoli].

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"But the way we played the other night against Mexico [a hard-fought 2-1 defeat], we knew we had that in us. We don't have a big playing pool, it's ludicrous compared to other teams at this tournament. We have 26 or 27 players to choose from but we have incredible belief.

"So whoever we face in November, it will be the fifth-best team in South America. They are fifth for a reason. If it's a top team they are fifth because they have lost games they should have won. They will have weaknesses so we will have confidence going into that game."