New Zealand display their shock potential

29th May 2010 | World Cup Betting category: Football World Cup News
Football World Cup News

New Zealand shown plenty of promise in their first pre-World Cup friendly against locals Australia despite losing 2-1 down under. It was a bitter defeat for the Kiwi’s to take as it was one they certainly didn’t deserve, and with their stoic display against the Aussies still fresh in the minds, perhaps a small turn up for the books against a rusty Serbia was a genuine possibility. Well, it certainly paved out that way as with just 22 minutes on the clock, Smeltz had New Zealand fans in raptures when his low driven shot  found a way into the bottom left-hand corner of the Serbia goal, thus handing the Kiwi’s a shock 1-0 lead.


Before kick-off, Serbia were a general 4/9 to record a somewhat routine win over their apparently ‘lesser’ opponents, but it was New Zealand who were making a mockery of their starting odds, by far and the way the team with the more attacking intent and adventure in the opening exchanges and had chances in the first half to increase their advantage, although neither were clear cut and none were put away. However, the sheer fact New Zealand were causing the Serbian defence all sorts of problems, asking questions of  aback four which contained Man Utd’s Nemanja Vidic and Borussia Dortmund’s Subotic, will have pleased coach Ricki Herbert and raised a few eyebrows with the neutrals.

During qualifying, Serbia made a quick name for themselves for their superb organisational skills and superiority from set-plays. There were signs that the former characteristic may have been true, with most of New Zealand’s opening scrappy at best, but they average at best when it came to set-pieces, with their formidable record from set-plays in qualifying – scoring eight goals from set-plays en route to South Africa – almost non-existent. In fact it was New Zealand who were first to every aerial ball, a tactic Herbert clearly instilled into his players before kick-off, emphasising that the New Zealand coach has done his homework and will do more over the coming weeks.

As the game dwindled out into a surprising New Zealand victory, although not before the Serbian fans caused trouble with their flares and dashes onto the field, we were disappointed with what we seen from Serbia, who have a growing reputation at international level. Chances for them were few and far between, with their usually potent giant striker Nikola Zigic kept quiet throughout. We actually pinpointed Zigic as a weak link in regards to Serbia’s forward plays. Granted his ‘BFG’ like figure is useful when set-plays arrive, or long balls over the top, but the former Valencia striker just isn’t mobile enough for our liking and isn’t quick enough to react when the balls from the wings finally arrive. Getting forward wasn’t a huge issue for Serbia, but their final balls were lousy and it’s an area which definitely needs looking at by coach Weiss, with Zigic in particular off the pace.


Yet again it was another pleasing performance from New Zealand’s, a nation which has endeared itself to the footballing world further with another valiant display. Rory Fallon was a constant nuisance for the Serbia defence, fearless in the tackles and not afraid to get stuck in with a robust Vidic and Co. Chris Wood was another of the Kiwi forwards which shown absolutely no fear regardless of the daunting prospect of facing an organised and experienced Serbia back line. However defensively, New Zealand were fantastic considering Herbert opted for three centre-backs in a 3-4-3 formation. Resolute wasn’t the word as they repelled anything dangerous from Serbia whilst riding their luck at times.

Those teams in Group F; Italy, Paraguay and Slovakia better sit up and take notice of New Zealand’s performance today, as while their odds to progress are huge, the Kiwi’s put in a high-calibre display, one which suggests New Zealand do have a shock of two in them ahead of the finals next month. For Serbia, though, it’s back to camp. Rusty, unimaginative, lacklustre, all words we could use to describe their performance today. They do however have a little under a week to sharpen their match fitness and perfect their style of play before the finals.

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