Anthony Hudson wants to turn the All Whites into the footballing equivalent of Ironmen or Ultra-distance racers.

In the wake of Tuesday's 2-0 win over Fiji, which booked New Zealand's passage to the Oceania Stage Three final in September, attention now switches to the Fifa Confederations Cup.

In the space of eight days in June, the All Whites (ranked 112 in the world) will face the European champions Portugal (world No 8), 17th ranked Mexico and the host nation Russia.

It's a formidable task, but Hudson hopes to bridge the gap by having the fittest team at the tournament, able to out-run and out-last their more fancied opponents.


"The key for us as a smaller nation - we have to be so fit," said Hudson. "We need to make sure when we turn up in June we are physically fitter than Russia, Mexico and Portugal. We have to be - as a starting point."

It seems vital, because New Zealand are likely to spend long periods of each match starved of the ball, and a lung busting challenge just to win it back. Once they do, the All Whites need to make the most of their scraps of possession, invoking the need to be clear headed and composed.

There can't be another scenario like the infamous match against Mexico at the Azteca Stadium in 2013, where New Zealand spent most of the 5-1 loss without the ball, and tended to forfeit it almost immediately on the rare occasions when they regained possession.

However, it won't be easy to implement Hudson's plan. While the European-based All Whites will be in action well into May, the Phoenix-based New Zealand contingent will likely have their feet up in a matter of weeks. The Stirling Sports Premiership also winds up this weekend, though Auckland City should be involved in OFC Champions League until early May.

"We have so much work to do in terms of preparation," said Hudson. "Between now and then we are looking at every way possible to make sure everyone is as fit as they can be, especially those not playing first team football."

Hudson's emphasis reminds of the 1982 All Whites campaign, as their success over a grueling campaign was predicated on supreme level of base fitness, achieved through killer circuits of the Mt Smart track and summits of One Tree Hill.

The majority of Hudson's 23-man squad appears locked in. There is a core of players who have been regulars over the last two years, and the rapid elevation of Jai and Dane Ingham into the setup is positive for their chances. The most intense competition for places appears to be in the wing back roles and up front, with some strong contenders likely to miss out.

"I've left some players out of the squad who are very, very good players," said Hudson. "We have real depth now and it's a good position to be in. I've got a period of time to keep watching players."