Ricki Herbert claims FIFA World Cup™ group opponents Slovakia, Italy and Paraguay will underestimate New Zealand at their peril in South Africa.
The All Whites departed for the tournament on Saturday ready for their first taste of the FIFA World Cup since 1982.
After a last-gasp defeat to Australia in Melbourne, a decent build-up in Europe where they beat Serbia 1-0 and battled hard in a 3-1 loss to Slovenia, coach Herbert is left feeling buoyant about their chances.
I think we're punching above our weight now and it's great. It's consistent. If anybody wants to take us lightly at the World Cup then good luck to them.
If we can keep the percentage of chances coming and increase the percentages of those hitting the back of the net then it will certainly stand us in good stead."
Friday's defeat in Maribor highlighted areas New Zealand still need to work on - their defensive work at set-pieces and their finishing skills. Slovenia's first two goals came from excellent free-kicks by Milivoje Novakovic, while a goalkeeping blunder by Mark Paston handed Andraz Kirm a simple third.
At the other end the New Zealanders created several opportunities but only had a 20th-minute goal by Rory Fallon to their credit when the final whistle went.
"Whether they were free-kicks or not, and we can argue that, the reality is people at this level are going to punish you. We can do better there," said Herbert.
"We also just need to be much more clinical. We probably had four or five goal-scoring opportunities and we took one of them. If we can keep the percentage of chances coming and increase the percentages of those hitting the back of the net then it will certainly stand us in good stead."
New Zealand have just one training match against Chile - a game that will be played over three 30-minute periods - ahead of their opener against Slovakia on 15 June.