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All Whites close to full strength for Italy warm-up match

New Zealand's national team are almost at full strength for Thursday's Confederations Cup warm-up match against Italy. All Whites coach Ricki Herbert is excited about the clash with the world champions and is hoping to produce a quality performance leading into their tournament opener against Euro champs Spain on June 15.

"For a multiple of reasons it's great for the game," Herbert said.

"It's a fantastic opportunity. It may be mammoth gap between where they are and we're at, but it gives a chance on that world stage to put a good foot forward and I think we can.

"One of the important things of getting to this level, is that those sort of things flow into the game," he added.

"Whilst it'll be great for the players on the pitch to play the best players and the best teams in the world, football fans can switch that on and watch their own team play the likes of (Italy captain) Fabio Cannavaro or (Spain's Liverpool striker) Fernando Torres or whoever.

"People watch those players week in and week out because they they're the best players in the world. There'll be some amazing match-ups and some really intriguing competitions on the park.

"Kids will love it. They'll watch and see that opportunities are there in the game and if you can qualify these are the sorts of teams you're going to come up against."

Squads for New Zealand versus Italy - Pretoria, Thursday

New Zealand - All Whites: Mark Paston, Aaron Scott, Tony Lochhead, Duncan Oughton, Ben Sigmund, Ivan Vicelich, Simon Elliott, Tim Brown (captain), Shane Smeltz, Chris Killen, Leo Bertos, Glen Moss, Andy Barron, Jeremy Christie, Jeremy Brockie, Chris James, David Mulligan, Andrew Boyens, Steven Old, Chris Wood, Kris Bright, Jarrod Smith, James Bannatyne.

Italy: Gianluigi Buffon, Davide Santon, Fabio Grosso, Giorgio Chiellini, Fabio Cannavaro, Nicola Legrottaglie, Simone Pepe, Gennaro Gattuso, Luca Toni, Daniele de Rossi, Alberto Gilardino, Morgan de Sanctis, Alessandro Gamberini, Marco Amelia, Vincenzo Iaquinta, Mauro Camoranesi, Giuseppe Rossi, Angelo Palombo, Gianluca Zambrotta, Riccardo Montolivo, Andrea Pirlo, Andrea Dossena, Fabio Quagliarella.

Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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