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Jun 3, 2011

NZ will lift for Socceroos: Herbert

Coach Ricki Herbert says the All Whites owe it to the New Zealand people to cast aside injury concerns and a hectic travel schedule with a strong performance on Sunday against the Socceroos.

The Kiwis head into the Adelaide Oval clash on the back of a tumultuous build-up after arriving in South Australia on Saturday following a 14,000km journey after a 3-0 loss to Mexico only two days earlier in Denver.

Also facing an injury crisis, Herbert's side to play Australia will feature only two of 11 players who started their first match at last year's World Cup in South Africa.

But the Wellington Phoenix coach backed his team to get a natural boost from the trans-Tasman rivalry and their desire to keep the momentum of the sport going back home.

"I'm a Kiwi, too, and you don't come across the Tasman and take things lightly," Herbert said on Saturday.

"In any international, there's pride and I think that's what we're about.

"We've got football back to where it needs to be in New Zealand and I think we all have a responsibility and an accountability (on Sunday) to step up and perform no matter who's on the pitch.

"In 2005, hardly anyone really cared about our sport, I'll be up front. Now, everybody loves it, so we can't wait to play."

Missing the likes of first team regulars Ryan Nelsen, Tony Lochhead, Winston Reid and Leo Bertos, Herbert said the match was a good opportunity for a host of inexperienced players to impress for the 2014 Brazil World Cup qualifying campaign.

And he pin-pointed Brisbane Roar revelation Kosta Barbarouses as the man who could expose a weakness in the Australian defence, after he performed well in a beaten side against Mexico.

"I think there's a little bit of vulnerability perhaps at the back for the Australians and who better to create those problems than Kosta," Herbert said.

Herbert was hopeful promising midfielder Marco Rojas could be a late inclusion to the team after recovering from a virus to join the squad from New Zealand.

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