All Whites assistant coach Simon Elliott says now is the time for the side to take the next step on the international stage.
New Zealand play the Republic of Ireland in Dublin Wednesday morning (NZ time).
They were beaten 2-0 by Greece at the weekend in the first game of this international window.
Elliott says playing top opposition is what they want, but they now have to show they can be competitive at that level.
“I think the team has gained some really good experience the last few (international) windows and they’re building nicely,” he told a media conference ahead of the Ireland game.
New Zealand has played just six times this year, scoring one win, three losses and two draws.
Elliott, who played 69 games for New Zealand between 1995 and 2011, joined Darren Bazeley’s coaching staff in March.
“We’ve seen progression, but we haven’t seen as much as we’d like in terms of scorelines and we’re looking to change that tomorrow.”
Captain Chris Wood agrees.
The Nottingham Forest striker says with their focus on qualifying for the 2026 World Cup, they need to start getting results against the top sides.
“Come the World Cup, if we get there, we’ll be playing these top oppositions and you need to be ready for that.
“So it’s a balance of finding the right performance to break these big teams done, but also winning games at the same time.
“If we were just worrying about results we’d just take on teams ranked around or below us, but we want to challenge ourselves and get better and playing these top oppositions is the way to go about it.”
Wood says the process of playing games in Europe is the right one for them.
“We’ve done extremely well defensively in the most cases, our problem has been finishing.
“As a striking unit we talk about it, but ultimately we just need to keep trying the things we’re working on in training and then taking our chances when we get them.”
More than 40,000 tickets have been sold for the game at Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
Ireland, who finished their European Championship qualifying programme at the weekend with a 1-0 loss to the Netherlands, will farewell James McClean who is expected to play his 103rd and last game for the nation.
The only other meeting between the Republic of Ireland and New Zealand was in November 2019, a friendly match in Dublin with Ireland winning 3-1.