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Serie A heavyweights head-to-head

50-50 Challenge 2 days ago
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By ESPN Staff
Sep 1, 2009

New Zealand turn to Australia for World Cup help

New Zealand have turned to fierce rivals Australia for help in trying to qualify for the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa.

New Zealand officials announced on Tuesday they had hired former Australia coach Raul Blanco as a technical advisor for their World Cup playoff against either Bahrain or Saudi Arabia later this year.

Argentine-born Blanco coached Australia during the 1990s and was an assistant in two World Cup playoffs that ended in failure, but New Zealand head coach Ricki Herbert said his experience could prove decisive.

"The difference may be one percent or it may be 10 percent but it's important that we cover every base with a place at the World Cup on the line," Herbert said in a statement.

"He's felt the pressures and demands of World Cup playoffs, one of them through the Middle East like we face now, and seen the style and tactics employed.

"He'll be able to reflect on things he's experienced in the past and quickly pick up on things in our environment that we can improve on." Blanco, whose Australian teams often won at the expense of New Zealand, said he was looking forward to joining forces with his old rivals.

"We had an incredible rivalry for so many years but Australia are at the World Cup already and New Zealand has a wonderful challenge to reach South Africa as well," he said.

"It will be fantastic for the game in New Zealand and the whole region."

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