Ryan Nelsen issued the battle cry but Rory Fallon has taken it further, talking war with Australia in Monday’s so-called “friendly” in Melbourne.
As New Zealand Football revealed how it would use a Fifa World Cup windfall to raise soccer’s profile, Fallon was already on the job, lobbing a transtasman grenade.
The All Whites’ World Cup camp opened in genteel surroundings yesterday with a gear-signing session in central Auckland while Nelsen completed his World Cup book promotion tour at Botany Downs.
Fallon, whose Wellington header against Bahrain netted New Zealand at least $8 million out of Fifa’s coffers, was already in a belligerent mood.
The straight-talking and controversial Plymouth Argyle striker applauded captain Nelsen for demanding the 23-man squad believe in their ability to win World Cup games.
But whereas Nelsen said Monday night’s Melbourne result was not paramount, Fallon is hell-bent on beating the Ockers.
And while Nelsen believed all the squad needed warm-up game time against the Socceroos, Serbia, Slovenia and Chile, Fallon wants coach Ricki Herbert to play his best side.
“I always say friendlies are a waste of time and players worry about injury and suspension in them, but when you are playing Australia all bets are off,” Fallon said.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a few injuries. I don’t think anyone is going to hold back. Australia will be the same – they won’t want to get beaten by a team they think of as a lesser country.
“We’re going full-pelt with these guys. It’s not bad blood, just that old rivalry between New Zealand and Australia.”
Fallon backed Nelsen, who rubbished any thoughts the All Whites were simply making up World Cup numbers. Fallon said: “I read what Ryan said and it was music to my ears.
“That’s what I want to hear from my captain. We’re not going there just to take part and enjoy the show. That’s what Ryan brings to the table and that’s the attitude for every player.
“I don’t care what anyone says, the odds or what journalists write. We are going there to get in people’s faces and win.”
On selection, he was just as forthright, scoffing at rotation.
“I don’t know what Ricki is going for but for me, you play your best team in every game. The more you play together the more cohesion and understanding you have.
“Gone are the days of kids’ football when you gave everybody a chance. This is the big stuff so play the best team.”
The team had a brilliant spirit, Fallon said, with many links. This even bridged the age gap – Fallon pointed out that veteran Ivan Vicelich was coached by his dad, Kevin Fallon.
“I used to train with Ivan. I’ve lived with some of these guys like [Leo] Bertos and [Jeremy] Christie, and we are all best friends. We’ve known each other since a young age.”
Meanwhile NZF chairman Frank van Hattum announced that a new foundation – with Nelsen the patron and company director Mark Stewart of Christchurch the chairman – will manage much of the World Cup windfall.
NZF is guaranteed about $8 million, and a further US$1 million ($1.45 million) if the All Whites make the knockout stage.
A foundation start-up of $4 million aims to raise soccer’s quality, including through retaining teenage players. Another $2 million reserve will back seven national teams.
“We need more Ryan Nelsens,” van Hattum said.
The Fifa money, after an NZF surplus of $1.3 million last year, will also wipe out debt. The All Whites are on an undisclosed and “healthy” percentage.