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Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Durante decision a boost for NZ

By Cathy Walshe

Missing out on Socceroos selection played an important part in Wellington Phoenix captain Andrew Durante's decision to opt for New Zealand as they battle for a berth at next year's World Cup in Brazil.

Durante, born in Sydney, came to the Phoenix in 2008 after taking the Newcastle Jets to the A-League title the previous season.

On Thursday, Durante confirmed he will be available for the All Whites from March, once his New Zealand citizenship is approved and he receives the go-ahead from FIFA.

"It's a long process," Durante said.

"I've got to go through the government stuff, citizenship and passports, then once that's done I have to get approval from FIFA.

"Not being selected in the Socceroos made the decision a lot easier.

"It's my birth country and there's obviously very close ties. But I've got very close links to New Zealand - I've been here five years, I'm the captain of the only professional football club here, my daughter was born here and I own property here.

"It's home to me at the moment, and it feels right."

Durante is keeping things low key, with the memory of teammate Vince Lia's disappointment after his hopes of playing for New Zealand were crushed as he was denied FIFA approval.

"I'm committed to the process, and it can take a while. I'm still cautious. I've been on the bench for a Socceroos game, so there's always that that FIFA can look at," Durante said.

"But the process is in motion, and hopefully in March everything's all rosy."

Durante is unsure if he'll be available in time for selection for the All Whites' World Cup qualifier in New Zealand on March 22.

The All Whites need only a draw against New Caledonia in that game to confirm their place in an intercontinental play-off against the fourth-placed CONCACAF team for a spot in Brazil in 2014.

Durante's availability for New Zealand would be a boost after captain Ryan Nelsen's decision to take up a coaching role at Toronto FC was announced on Wednesday.

The long-serving central defender has played for his country 49 times and led them on their unbeaten run at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

He has yet to decide on his international future.

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