Alex McLeod runs through all you need to know ahead of the FIFA World Cup qualifier between the All Whites and the Solomon Islands.

QBE Stadium, Auckland, 7:35pm kick-off

The 11th meeting between the All Whites and the Solomon Islands will take place at Albany's QBE Stadium tonight in a match that is the first of two legs in the OFC Final.

Friday's clash will be the first time the All Whites have faced the Bonitos since they met at the OFC Nations Cup in Papua New Guinea last year.

In that encounter, the New Zealanders were given a scare in their 1-0 win, with an 80th minute goal to defender Luke Adams ensuring them victory.

Advertisement

That win maintained the All Whites' 37-year undefeated run against their Pacific neighbours, with only a 1-1 draw during the 2012 OFC Nations Cup in Honiara tarnishing their otherwise unblemished win record.

For Anthony Hudson's men, their route to the Oceania final has been a somewhat undemanding state of affairs.

They kicked off their qualifying campaign with an undefeated run to the 2016 OFC Nations Cup title in Port Moresby, with perhaps their only struggle coming in the final, when they were forced into a penalty shoot-out by Papua New Guinea.

A 4-2 shoot-out win not only assured them of the title, but also their spot in the Confederations Cup in Russia earlier this year.

Additionally, by finishing in the top three of their group at the OFC Nations Cup, the All Whites also qualified for the OFC third qualifying round.

The All Whites celebrate their 2016 OFC Nations Cup final win. Photo / Photosport.
The All Whites celebrate their 2016 OFC Nations Cup final win. Photo / Photosport.

Although their exploits in Russia were far more underwhelming than what they would have liked, the All Whites completed the third qualifying round in convincing style.

Drawn alongside New Caledonia and Fiji in Group A, the New Zealanders swept away their opposition with three 2-0 victories in Auckland, Wellington, and Lautoka, as well as a 0-0 draw in Koné.

That left the Kiwis at the top of their group, gifting them a berth in this week's final.

After finishing second to New Zealand in their OFC Nations Cup group, the Solomon Islands' semi-final loss to Papua New Guinea was cushioned by the fact that they had progressed to the third Oceania qualifying round.

Drawn in Group B with Papua New Guinea and Tahiti, the Bonitos endured a rough start to the third round after they fielded an ineligible player in their opening away tie against Tahiti, gifting a 3-0 win to the hosts.

A 93rd minute goal to Emmanuel Poila in the return fixture gave the Solomon Islanders a vital 1-0 win, which was followed by a 3-2 home win against Papua New Guinea.

Needing a victory against the Kapuls in their final group match, the world's 155th ranked side not only managed to secure a 2-1 win against the side that knocked them out of the 2016 OFC Nations Cup, but they also booked their spot in the OFC Final.

The eventual Oceania champion over the course of the two legs in Auckland and Honiara will be left to face the fifth-placed CONMEBOL side from the South American section in an inter-continental play-off series in November.

Currently, that side is Argentina, the nation that possess the mercurial talents of Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Angel Di Maria, Paulo Dybala, and of course, Lionel Messi.

However, with just a six-point gap between the second and eighth-placed teams in South America with four matches to play, any of these countries (Colombia, Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, Ecuador, Peru and Paraguay) are all undoubtedly in the mix to face the Oceania qualifier in two months time.

No matter what the CONMEBOL qualifier may be, it will be a monumental task for either the All Whites or Solomon Islands when they will be challenged to relinquish a top five nation from arguably the planet's most prominent footballing region across a two-match series.

ALL WHITES WORLD CUP QUALIFYING RESULTS SO FAR:

2016:
3-1 win vs Fiji (OFC Nations Cup)
5-0 win vs Vanuatu (OFC Nations Cup)
1-0 win vs Solomon Islands (OFC Nations Cup)
1-0 win vs New Caledonia (OFC Nations Cup)
0-0 draw (won on penalties 4-2) vs Papua New Guinea (OFC Nations Cup)
2-0 win vs New Caledonia (OFC third round qualification)
0-0 draw vs New Caledonia (OFC third round qualification)

2017:
2-0 win vs Fiji (OFC third round qualification)
2-0 win vs Fiji (OFC third round qualification)

SOLOMON ISLANDS WORLD CUP QUALIFYING RESULTS SO FAR:

2016:
1-0 win vs Vanuatu (OFC Nations Cup)
0-1 loss vs Fiji (OFC Nations Cup)
0-1 loss vs New Zealand (OFC Nations Cup)
1-2 loss vs Papua New Guinea (OFC Nations Cup)
0-3 loss (awarded) vs Tahiti (OFC third round qualification)
1-0 win vs Tahiti (OFC third round qualification)

2017:
3-2 win vs Papua New Guinea (OFC third round qualification)
2-1 win vs Papua New Guinea (OFC third round qualification)

CONMEBOL STANDINGS (14 out of 18 games played):

1 - Brazil (33pts)
2 - Colombia (24pts)
3 - Uruguay (23pts)
4 - Chile (23pts)
5 - Argentina (22pts)
6 - Ecuador (20pts)
7 - Peru (18pts)
8 - Paraguay (18pts)
9 - Bolivia (10pts)
10 - Venezuela (6pts)

Squads:

All Whites coach Anthony Hudson has been forced to make plenty of changes to his original squad for these qualifiers following a series of injuries to key personnel over the past few weeks.

Skipper Winston Reid, Shane Smeltz (both calf), Tommy Smith (hamstring), and Marco Rojas (quad) are all experienced squad members who have all been ruled out due to various injury-related reasons.

Additionally, Bill Tuiloma, Clayton Lewis, and - more recently - Dane Ingham have all been omitted due to lack of fitness.

However, the Kiwis will not have any shortage of talent, with new Burnley star Chris Wood taking over the captaincy role, while the likes of Kosta Barbarouses, Ryan Thomas and Michael McGlinchey will be influential figures within the New Zealand side.

All Whites captain Chris Wood celebrates after scoring the equalising goal on his Premier League debut for Burnley against Tottenham. Photo / AP.
All Whites captain Chris Wood celebrates after scoring the equalising goal on his Premier League debut for Burnley against Tottenham. Photo / AP.

Elsewhere, Alex Rufer, James Musa, and Sam Brotherton have been called into the squad to replace the injured veterans, while Oliver Sail is a straight swap for third choice goalkeeper Tamati Williams, who has been dropped following his inclusion in the Confederations Cup squad.

Meanwhile, Spanish-born Solomon Islands coach Felipe Vera-Arango has named a squad that consists of predominantly domestically-based players, with only one based outside of the Solomon Islands.

That player is 26-year-old Auckland City midfielder Micah Lea'alafa, who will be one of the key players within the Solomon Islands side.

Another important player within the Solomon Islands ranks is former Wellington Phoenix forward Benjamin Totori.

Totori played 15 times for the A-League side during the 2012-13 season, and currently plys his trade for Telekom S-League club Western United.

54-cap midfielder Henry Fa'arodo will provide some much-needed experience for the Solomon Islanders.

ALL WHITES SQUAD:

GOALKEEPERS:

Stefan Marinovic (Vancouver Whitecaps)
Glen Moss (Newcastle Jets)
Oliver Sail (Wellington Phoenix)

DEFENDERS:

Michael Boxall (Minnesota United)
Sam Brotherton (Sunderland)
Kip Colvey (San Jose Earthquakes)
Tom Doyle (Wellington Phoenix)
Andrew Durante (Wellington Phoenix)
Storm Roux (Central Coast Mariners)
Themistoklis Tzimopoulos (PAS Giannina)
Deklan Wynne (Whitecaps FC 2)

MIDFIELDERS:

Michael McGlinchey (Wellington Phoenix)
James Musa (Sporting Kansas City)
Alex Rufer (Wellington Phoenix)
Ryan Thomas (PEC Zwolle)

FORWARDS:

Kosta Barbarouses (Melbourne Victory)
Myer Bevan (Whitecaps FC 2)
Monty Patterson (Ipswich Town)
Chris Wood (Burnley) (captain)

SOLOMON ISLANDS SQUAD:

GOALKEEPERS:

Zantas Kabini (Marist)
Philip Mango (Marist)
Desmond Tutu (Kossa)

DEFENDERS:

Hadisi Aengari (Solomon Warriors)
Michael Boso (Marist)
Richard Hiromana (Marist)
Nelson Sale Kilifa (Western United)
Robert Laua (Marist)
Emmanuel Poila (Solomon Warriors)
Andrew Rarangia (Henderson Eels)

MIDFIELDERS:

Clifton Aumae (Henderson Eels)
Timothy Bakale (Marist)
Jeffrey Bule (Marist)
Henry Fa'arodo (Marist)
Atkin Kaua (Marist)
Micah Lea'alafa (Auckland City)
Joses Nawo (Henderson Eels)

FORWARDS:

Clement Baegeni (Henderson Eels)
Jerry Donga (Solomon Warriors)
Gagame Feni (Solomon Warriors)
Benjamin Totori (Western United)

Odds:

The All Whites are listed as overwhelmingly strong favourites to take out the opening clash, paying just $1.12 for a win.

In comparison, the Solomon Islands are paying a whopping $14.50 for what would be a huge upset victory at QBE Stadium.

The scorelines considered most likely by the TAB are either a 2-0 or 3-0 win in favour of the New Zealanders, with both scorelines paying $6.

By contrast, there are seven different scorelines that are paying a mammoth $151, including a 7-0 win to the Solomon Islands and a 4-4 draw.

How to follow:

The Herald will be live blogging the game from 7:15pm, and RadioSport will have live commentary. Sky TV will be showing the match live on Sky Sport 3 from 7pm.