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Soccer-New Zealand set piece threat the main concern for Mexico

Reuters

MEXICO CITY, Nov 5 (Reuters) - New Zealand's strength in the air at set pieces is Mexico's main concern ahead of their intercontinental World Cup playoff, central defender Francisco Rodriguez said on Tuesday.

Coach Miguel Herrera's side host the first leg at the Azteca in Mexico City on Nov. 13 with the return at the Westpac in Wellington a week later.

The winner of the playoff will earn a berth at the World Cup finals in Brazil.

"We know their strong points are their height and dead ball situations. It's going to be very tough and we're working on that," Rodriguez, who at 1.9 metres is one of Mexico's few tall players, told reporters.

Mexico failed to qualify directly for Brazil from the CONCACAF qualifiers, shedding three coaches on the way before appointing Herrera for the playoff against Oceania group winners New Zealand.

Defender Rafael Marquez, a veteran of the 2002, 2006 and 2010 World Cup finals, said he was confident Mexico would emerge victorious from the pressure-packed playoff.

"We're playing for our ticket to a World Cup and that pressure can't be compared with any other, but we're confident and motivated," he said. (Reporting by Carlos Calvo; Writing by Rex Gowar in Buenos Aires; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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