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Nov 18, 2013

Herbert: Bahrain tie was pressure

New Zealand boss Ricki Herbert believes his squad is under less pressure than they were four years ago heading into the second-leg of a World Cup qualifier.

The All Whites will face Mexico in Wellington on Wednesday needing a small miracle to overcome a 5-1 first-leg deficit to book their place at Brazil next year.

However, four years ago, trying to qualify for their first World Cup in 28 years, New Zealand welcomed Bahrain locked at 0-0 and grabbed their spot in South Africa thanks to a 1-0 win.

And Herbert said the pressure of that night outweighed the build-up to the All Whites attempts to overturn Mexico’s four-goal lead.

"I probably thought going into the home tie here against Bahrain there was a strong degree of pressure given the result we got away and potentially going back to a World Cup after 28 years," he added, referring to the 0-0 draw in the first tie in Manama.

"I'm going to enjoy tomorrow, if I'm honest. It's easy to be critical, as we've seen over the past week in different areas, and we cope with that, that's the roles we're in.

"But I think it's my responsibility to flow that calmness down to the players and give them the best opportunity, spirit-wise, to go out tomorrow to perform."

However, Herbert, who took charge of the side in 2005, hinted that the clash against the Mexicans may be his last as All Whites’ boss.

Asked if he was viewing the match as his farewell, Herbert said: "We'll see, that certainly hasn't been agreed yet, by any stretch.

"It has been a tough task for eight years.

"The timing of the qualifications has always been a little difficult for us. We finished (Oceania qualifying) in March and you don't play again until the back end of the year," he said.

"The CONCACAF region have gone right up to the death. The Mexican league got closed and an opportunity got created for that group to prepare and play.

"If it is a meaningful outcome to qualify every four years then maybe it does need a more rigorous look at what we require to qualify.

"If we don't qualify this time then one in two (World Cups), is not a bad percentage given it took us 28 years to go back to a second one.

"Let's hope it's not another 28 years."

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