Nelsen hoping to annoy Allardyce

WELLINGTON - While most players in the English Premier League bend over backwards to please their managers, New Zealand captain Ryan Nelsen is hoping to really annoy his Blackburn Rovers boss Sam Allardyce this weekend.

If everything goes according to plan, Nelsen would have led his New Zealand team into the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa by winning the second leg of their World Cup qualifier against against Bahrain on Saturday.

That would mean missing out on valuable rest between the English seasons and risk upsetting Allardyce but Nelsen said that was a price he was willing to pay.

"I think the only person who doesn't want me to get there is the manager, because I'll pretty much be playing two years straight," the Blackburn Rovers central defender and captain, told reporters in Wellington.

"So hopefully I'll annoy him after this game."

Despite poking fun at his manager, Nelsen said he knew he had the support of all his Blackburn team mates, though he was sceptical about their motives.

"They have been so supportive," Nelsen said. "They have been wishing me and New Zealand so much luck.

"Though I think for some of them they think if we get through they think it'll be an easier game for them."

New Zealand have only qualified for the World Cup finals once before, in 1982, but are suddenly on the verge of making a second appearance after winning the Oceania qalifying stage to advance to a play-off against the fifth-placed side from Asia.

The teams drew 0-0 away in Manama last month, leaving everything to play for in Saturday's return leg at Wellington's sold-out Westpac stadium.

The 32-year-old Nelsen jokingly told reporters he was just an infant when New Zealand last qualified but hoped his own side would create memories for the next generation.

"I was very young. I was six months or one. I'm 26 now," he said with a grin, indicating his greying hair was in fact "Arctic blonde streaks."

"I can remember my father waking me up in the early hours to watch. I didn't know what it was because I was pretty young, but I do remember getting up and being excited and not really understanding it.

"(New Zealand coach) Ricki (Herbert) showed us the (footage) of some of the old games, when he had a perm down to his shoulders and a few horrendous haircuts were floating around.

"It was really nostalgic and awe-inspiring to see these guys at those level and gave us some major motivation.

"Hopefully in a few years time people will be looking back and laughing at our horrendous haircuts."