Keep calm - and carry yourselves to glory. That's the message to the New Zealand side from former All White Tim Brown, one of the stars of the 2009 playoffs against Bahrain.

Brown, who has since found business success with his footwear company AllBirds, played a vital role in midfield in the 0-0 draw in Manama and famous 1-0 win in Wellington which earned New Zealand a place at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

That night in Wellington remains his favourite footballing memory, albeit also the most nerve-wracking.

"I've never watched the match again - never," said Brown. "I don't think I could. It was so much to go through, so tense, that 90 minutes, and the margin of victory was so narrow. It would make me too nervous. We all knew what was at stake and how it could change in a moment."


But if the match was a pressure cooker, the lead-up was relatively serene, given the circumstances.

"We didn't want to add pressure to the occasion," said Brown. "And as a group, we got the tone of the week right."

Former Black Caps skipper Stephen Fleming addressed the team early in the week with a message which really hit home, Brown said.

"He emphasised that it would be an emotional rollercoaster but you needed to be incredibly selfish and careful in the management of your energy."

That resonated with Brown, despite the increasing hype around the country.

"You had to realise that none of those texts matter, nor those phone calls, nor what the papers are saying," said Brown. "And it doesn't matter if you have a bad training session or something ... because all of the homework has been done.

"It's just about calmly getting through the week and then executing. It freed you to keep something that could potentially be very emotional, quite simple.

"It was a very calm build-up to something we knew was very big. Sometimes you can get ahead of yourselves and start over-thinking it and over-playing it, and certainly I was guilty of that during my career."

Brown got through the week well, before the enormity of the occasion hit him on the Saturday morning.

"I went for a walk, as I liked to do. There were people in white everywhere, all over the place, and I saw Gareth Morgan in a boiler suit. That's when you realised ... wow, this is going to be something."

Brown's words might be relevant to the current All Whites. The team has been bunkered down in their hotel most of the week, with all training sessions closed to media and the public. They've also trained at different venues across the city, to avoid any potential for spying.

There have been plenty of team meetings and tactical discussions, and the All Whites have to fit a lot into their build-ups, due to their lack of matches and contact time compared with other nations.

The hope is coach Anthony Hudson has got the balance right. This week has felt very different to other match weeks - and it is - but sometimes there is a danger in straying too far from the normal routine for professional athletes.

Putting aside all the minutiae, the only thing that matters is that the All Whites emerge from the tunnel just before 4.15pm on Saturday with clear heads, sharp minds and fresh legs, ready to play the game of their lives.

"We went out knowing the odds were against us," said Brown. "But we were going to have a damn good go. And it changed all of our lives, that night. Peru is another level [compared with Bahrain] but I am sure this side has belief."