New Zealand – World Cup Preview
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Only their second time at the World Cup finals after also making it to Spain in 1982, New Zealand are the rank outsiders in Group F. The coach that’s to help them get as far as they can is Ricki Herbert who actually had playing experience for New Zealand at the Cup in ’82.
Herbert also manages Wellington Phoenix and a small slice of his squad selection play under him there. Team bonding won’t be much of a problem then. The worry is that most players don’t have the international experience to take the club much further than where they are now.
The All Whites are somewhat dependent on Ryan Nelson, a defender at English club Blackburn Rovers and one of the only players with top level playing experience. As captain it will be up to him to lead the lines and pass the benefit of his knowledge onto his comrades.
Second in command Tim Brown, who has had stints leading the squad in Nelson’s absence will also be vital. As a defensive midfielder it will be up to him to win the ball of the middle of the pitch and send it up to New Zealand’s strike force.
That front line will likely include Killen, Fallon, and Smeltz in some combination or another. All three of whom have decent scoring records for their country and if given the right service will need to step up and take the chances they get if New Zealand are to get anywhere.
Getting to South Africa New Zealand played in the Oceania qualifying group and with Australia competing for a place in the Asian group the Kiwi’s had somewhat of an easy ride, though they had to dig out a play-off result against Bahrain that involved a dramatic Rory Fallon finish and penalty save from Mark Paston.