Without even trying, financially strapped New Zealand Football has been handed a marketing coup for the next home match in the Oceania World Cup qualifiers.
That game, the second leg of the New Zealand v Tahiti series scheduled for AMI Stadium in Christchurch on October 16, will be Ryan Nelsen's 50th A international and his first in his home town.
Speaking after he led the All Whites to their 6-1 romp against the Solomon Islands at North Harbour Stadium on Tuesday, Nelsen was delighted at the prospect of playing in front of family and friends for the first time.
"It happened purely by accident," said NZ Football chief executive Grant McKavanagh yesterday.
"Now we are aware of it, it will certainly be a selling point. It is good news because we need to get as many people as we can to these games.
"Playing these games is a very costly exercise.
"All the players fly business class and by the time you bring them home, put them in decent accommodation and pay their daily allowance - which to be fair is minimal - it does cost between $300,000 to $400,000 each time they assemble.
"With no big television revenue we are very dependent on gate receipts."
Tahiti will be desperate to keep their World Cup dreams alive in those two games after slumping 4-0 at home to New Caledonia yesterday.
Three goals in five minutes midway through the second half and the fourth near the end of the game have all but ended Tahiti's hopes.
It has taken Nelsen some time to reach the milestone given his All Whites debut, against Poland, was in June 1999. He trails the team's most experienced player, Ivan Vicelich, by more than 30 games.
Vicelich made his debut against Uruguay (away) four years earlier. He retired in 2009 but returned in 2010 when asked by coach Ricki Herbert to come back as a replacement, somewhat ironically, for an injured Nelsen.
With the game in Christchurch scheduled for a Tuesday night it will be a short turnaround for both teams. Given they have to cross the international dateline, the game in Tahiti, on Friday October 12, will actually be played at 6pm on Saturday October 13 (NZ time) which is only three days before the second leg.
There is no doubt that Herbert will want his best players back for those games.
As he pointed out after Tuesday's game, few international teams can boast having two central defenders playing in the English Premier League - Nelsen at QPR and Winston Reid at West Ham - and another, Tommy Smith, playing in the Championship.
"We expect to do well when we are at full strength," said Herbert.
"We have to remember we still have the framework of the only unbeaten team at the last World Cup."By Terry Maddaford Email Terry