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Kiwi players to decide playoff venue

9 April 2013-AAP

Player preference will play an important part as New Zealand Football looks to settle on a venue for the All Whites' home 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier in November.

Chief executive Grant McKavanagh says NZF is looking to make a decision "sooner rather than later" and the two options - Auckland's Eden Park and Wellington's Westpac Stadium - both have strengths.

New Zealand's yet-to-be-decided opponent will be the fourth-placed team from CONCACAF, where Costa Rica, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama and USA are vying for three automatic qualifying places.

While stadium size is obviously important, McKavanagh says other factors must also be considered.

"We've got to give the team the best opportunity to win, so we're certainly taking into account their opinions on where they'd like to play," he told NZ Newswire.

"Really, the major difference between the stadiums is one has size and one has history."

Eden Park has a capacity of 50,000 and while Westpac Stadium holds a more modest 34,000, it also hosted the All Whites' historic 1-0 win over Bahrain to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

"We've seen before in Wellington that it can be exceptionally successful," McKavanagh said.

"The challenge in Auckland of course is that sometimes the crowds don't come out, so there's a large risk profile around holding it in a large stadium."

The first match of the tie will be played in the CONCACAF country on 13 or 14 November, with the return leg scheduled for 20 November in a midweek fixture McKavanagh says will bring a different dynamic.

He said the game had to be looked at from a competitive point of view as well as an operational perspective.

"The size of the prize if we do get through to the World Cup is very large," he said.

"There is the financial reward on the day, but the other one is a financial reward which is a lot larger and will essentially enable New Zealand Football to go ahead for the next five years with a relative amount of security."

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