Gold Coast United striker Shane Smeltz is eagerly anticipating next Monday’s international friendly between New Zealand and Australia in Melbourne.
The All Whites star believes the Melbourne Cricket Ground clash is the perfect way for both squads to prepare for the World Cup and be given a send off before the finals in South Africa next month.
“For the fans of both countries it’s going to be a great event and a fantastic way to send both teams off to the World Cup,” Smeltz said.
“This week is the final camp and our preparation really starts to pick up as it’s the 23 players who will be travelling to South Africa. Once we go into camp our thoughts will really start focussing on the World Cup itself – it’s a very exciting time.”
Smeltz said that it is a great time to be a part of New Zealand football as the sport is attracting a lot of interest and the fans are at fever pitch ahead of the sport’s biggest tournament.
“Football is getting a lot of attention in New Zealand now with all the media hype and support from the public. It’s great to see and fantastic for all the youngsters playing the game; I really hope it continues,” he added.
“Now that the final squad is selected we’re all beginning to think about the games ahead of us. We have some really tough games in our pre-tournament friendlies, let alone what we face in the World Cup itself, so it’s a great time for New Zealand and for football.
“Every opponent we’ll face has world-class players and we’re really looking forward to getting out there and testing ourselves against players of that calibre.”
And Smeltz added that he was also looking forward to taking on club teammate Jason Culina who is a key member of the Australian team.
“We trained together last week and there was a bit of banter about the game – we both love that kind of thing. It’s going to be a good contest and we’re both looking forward to it,” Smeltz added.