Full-strength All Whites to face SI
Tue, 11 Sep 2012 6:48p.m.
By Andrew Gourdie
The All Whites are expected to name a full strength line up for tonight's World Cup qualifier against the Solomon Islands at North Harbour Stadium, and they'll need to be at their best to stop a player who's tormented them in the past.
All Whites goal keeper Mark Paston had his work cut out for him at training as he prepared for an onslaught from the Solomon Islands team, and he could have his hands full tonight trying to stop Benji Totori.
“Hopefully someone kicks him once or twice and he doesn't do too much,” says Paston.
The New Zealand defenders couldn't get close enough to kick him at the Nations Cup in Honiara - he followed up his wonder strike in a 1-1 draw against the All Whites in pool play with two more in the playoff for third.
His performances impressed Ricki Herbert so much he signed him up to the Wellington Phoenix, where he's delivered on his Nations Cup promise.
“He's a really good player, especially one-on-one. The boys in Wellington notice he's a real handful if he does get guys one-on-one,” says Paston.
And Herbert was pleased to see his new signing continue his fine form on Friday as Totori set up the Solomon Islands opener in a 2-0 win over Nations Cup champions Tahiti.
But with his All Whites hat on tonight, Herbert's hoping for a quiet night from Totori the tormentor.
“I had a word to him about that, so hopefully he follows that script - but no, seriously, he's a great kid and doing really well but tonight's a different kettle of fish,” says Herbert.
The Bonitos have historically been fish out of water against the All Whites, who have never lost to the Solomon Islands in seven previous encounters.
Another win tonight will see them take a big step towards an intercontinental playoff for a place at the World Cup.
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