While SuperSport meet Pirates in Cup final‚ Boxall will mark Ronaldo in Russia

SuperSport United’s Kiwi defender Michael Boxall is expected to start on the right hand side for his country when they kick off their Confederation Cup campaign against hosts Russia on Saturday.

While the rest of his clubmates will be preparing the Nedbank Cup final‚ Boxall is at the eight-team tournament in Russia where New Zealand open against the host team at the Krestovsky Stadium in St Petersburg on Saturday.

They also play against Mexico and Portugal in their group and it is the last game against the European Champions that could be the biggest of the defender’s career.

Against Portugal in St Petersburg on June 24‚ Boxall will have the arduous job of marking World Footballer of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo.

“Because of the way we play with a back three‚ I’m more than likely to come up against that guy‚” Boxall told TimesLive.

“It’s something I’m really looking forward to‚ as an athlete or sportsperson who wants to test yourself against the best in the world. Obviously this is the perfect opportunity to do that.”

The game against Portugal will be at almost the same time as SuperSport United play in the cup final against Orlando Pirates at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.

“(Kiwi countryman Jeremy) Brockie’s joked with me that I have to forget about Ronaldo and get back for the final‚” Boxall said.

Brockie did not make the New Zealand squad but Boxall played in both warmup internationals against Northern Ireland Belarus over the last fortnight

The All Whites squad arrived in Russia last Friday with coach Antony Hudson expressing his satisfaction.

“It is great that we have a fully fit squad and we have been able to prepare well over the past 10 days or so together on tour. Our total focus is on being at our best for our opening game against Russia‚” Hudson told the New Zealand association’s website.

“We are focused on the task at hand‚ we are not going to get carried away with who we are playing‚ we know they are top teams but we are a strong team and we are going there focused on ourselves.

“Our preparation has been good‚ we know what we are trying to achieve and we are all excited about this tournament.”

- TMG Digital/TMG Sport