26 Dec 2010

All Whites to play China and Japan in March

6:54 am on 26 December 2010

The New Zealand football team, the All Whites, will play internationals against China and Japan in March as the start to their build-up for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

The All Whites will play China in the southern Chinese city of Nanning on March 25th and then meet Japan four days later at a yet-to-be-announced venue - likely to be Tokyo.

With Oceania's FIFA World Cup qualifying path pencilled in to again end with a home and away tie against an Asian nation, All Whites coach Ricki Herbert sees the early taste of Asia as vital to achieving New Zealand's first ever successive World Cup qualification.

Herbert won't name his squad for the matches until well into the New Year but has signalled it will have an eye on building a team capable of qualifying for and competing in Brazil.

FIFA World Cup qualifying will begin in Oceania with the football competition at the Pacific Games in New Caledonia in late August.

The top three teams will be joined by New Zealand in stage two where each team meets the others home and away over three FIFA windows in 2011 and 2012.

The first four of those matches are scheduled for the October and November FIFA windows next year.