'Italy raised our hopes'

New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert has warned their opponents in the Confederations Cup not to take them lightly.

New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert has warned their opponents in the Confederations Cup not to take them lightly.

The All Whites scored three goals in a narrow loss to Italy in a warm-up international friendly on Wednesday.

"We could be the dark horses in the tournament, who knows?" Herbert said after New Zealand led three times against the world champions before succumbing 4-3 in Pretoria.

Herbert, who played at the 1982 World Cup finals in Spain, described his side as "a young team with lots of self belief".

"I was very proud of the way we played, and to get a hat-trick of goals against a team of Italy's pedigree was superb. We now go into the tournament with a real degree of confidence," he said.

Ranked 82nd in the world, New Zealand open their Confederations Cup campaign against European champions Spain in Rustenburg on Sunday. Hosts South Africa and Asian champions Iraq are the other teams in Group A.

"Our agenda at the tournament was to get a point or a win, but to get to the semifinals is now a realistic dream," he said.

"We also want to keep the momentum going for the World Cup qualifying playoff matches we have coming up at the end of the year." - Reuters

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