There'll be no thoughts of 'Island time' for the All Whites in Fiji today.

Many observers see the upcoming clashes with the Pacific nation as a fait accompli, to continue New Zealand's progression towards the intercontinental World Cup playoffs in November.

But the All Whites can't afford to underestimate Fiji. It's happened in the past, and other teams with the silver fern have come unstuck.

The most infamous example was the 0-2 loss in 2008 - when Glen Moss got a red card and was subsequently banned for the 2010 World Cup - but there are other examples.


In 1983, a team featuring the bulk of the Espana 82 heroes, including Steve Sumner, Grant Turner and Steve Wooddin, lost 0-2 in Suva, just two years after setting a World Cup record with a 13-0 win over Fiji.

Five years later, a Kevin Fallon coached side suffered consecutive defeats in Lautoka and Ba.

The All Whites have lost four times on Fijian soil since 1980, and been held to a draw on four other occasions.

Perhaps aware of the history, there's no complacency from the New Zealand camp.

"We know Fiji are not going to be easy," said All Whites coach Anthony Hudson. "We are familiar with them. We know a lot of their players and we know their captain [Roy Krishna] very well. They are a team - especially away from home - [that] we have to make sure we are at our very best."

Krishna is the ace in the pack for Fiji. He's been one of the few shining lights in a misfiring Phoenix team this season and the 29-year-old tends to perform on the bigger stages. He scored both goals in the 2008 win, got on the scoresheet in his only Fifa Club World Cup appearance in 2013 and made history in Rio last year, when he scored Fiji's first goal at an Olympics. With 19 goals in 27 internationals, he's one of the highest profile sportsmen in Fiji, perhaps surpassed only by some of their sevens players.

"I love playing for my country," Krishna told the Herald earlier this year. "The Olympics put football on the map at home and there was a huge reaction. Playing New Zealand will be very tough, but we know what to expect."

Hudson has a settled side, albeit weakened by the withdrawal of Winston Reid. There is plenty of attacking firepower, headed by Chris Wood who has been in stunning form for Leeds United. He has scored 27 times already this season and has found the net in 23 different matches, more than any other player across the top four divisions in English football.

"It is not by chance," said Hudson of Wood. "It comes down to his mentality and how hard he works. He is such an asset to the national team. I think [Chris], among a few others in this squad, can be superstars on the international stage this year because they now have earned the platform to do that."

Marco Rojas and Shane Smeltz will add to the All Whites' strike power, and Tommy Smith and Themi Tzimopoulos provide experience at the back.

The question marks will be in midfield, as Michael McGlinchey last played for the Phoenix in early February and hasn't completed 90 minutes in the A-League since last November, while Bill Tuiloma has yet to appear for Marseille this season.

Today's match in Lautoka kicks off at 2pm (NZT), with the return fixture on Tuesday night in Wellington.