Do your worst! Tommy Smith ready for Mexican intimidation tactics

Ipswich Town defender Tommy Smith

Ipswich Town defender Tommy Smith - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Town defender Tommy Smith says he is looking forward to experiencing the famed intimidation tactics of Mexico’s passionate football fans.

The 23-year-old will captain New Zealand at the iconic Azteca Stadium tonight in the first leg of a play-off match which will determine who will go to next summer’s World Cup in Brazil.

A capacity crowd of 105,000 is expected for the match, with the Kiwi squad having been advised not to leave their Mexico City hotel after arriving from their initial Los Angeles training base yesterday.

Mexican fans have reportedly thrown missiles at opposition coaches in the past, while phones have been known to ring in hotel rooms while players are asleep ahead of games.

Mind games started with the visitors – nicknamed the All Whites – forced to play in their change strip of black.

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“I’ve packed my earplugs,” Smith joked.

“Obviously with it being Mexico, they’re going to do all they can to disrupt us. We’re prepared for that and security-wise as well.

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“We’ve all been briefed on what to do if certain things were to happen and I’m looking forward to the bus being shaken, to be honest, I’ve never experienced that before. We’re prepared for anything that’s going to come our way.”

Smith was part of the New Zealand side that qualified for their first World Cup in 28 years in 2010, the All Whites exiting after the group stages in South Africa after draws against Slovakia, Italy and Paraguay, and also represented them at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

This morning he will be up against former Ipswich loanee winger Giovani Dos Santos and Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez.

Should New Zealand qualify, Smith could become the first player to go to back-to-back World Cups, while at Ipswich, since England’s Terry Butcher.

“If you do leave the hotel they’re saying wear clothes that don’t show you’re an All White, so wear your casual clothes so you can’t be singled out as a professional sports team,” he added.

“I don’t think there’ll be too much problem. I think they’ll just be trying to disrupt us rather than anything violent.”

The second leg will take place in Wellington next Wednesday, with Smith unlikely to be back in Ipswich until Friday morning at the earliest. The Blues host Leicester City at Portman Road the following day.

– Send your good luck messages to Tommy Smith on Twitter – @tommysmith1990.

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