New Zealand V Slovakia Preview: Tuesday, 15th June (Group F)

13th June 2010 | World Cup Betting category: World Cup Qualification Previews & Predictions
World Cup Qualification Previews & Predictions

 

New Zealand V Slovakia

Kick-off: Tuesday, 15th June – 12:30 GMT
Stadium: Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg
Referee: Jerome Damon (South Africa)
Group F

 

New Zealand

New Zealand won’t be all too familiar with World Cup’s what with South Africa 2010 being their first since 1982, a tournament they would rather forget in all honesty. Ricki Herbert’s men arrive in South Africa as the second lowest ranked team of the 32 competing at 78 in the world and they’ll be out to upset the odds on Tuesday when they take on the Slovakians from Europe.

The Kiwi’s needed a Rory Fallon bullet header to seal their rightful berth into the summer’s biggest sporting spectacle, with the Plymouth Argyle forward scoring the only goal in a 1-0 aggregate win over Bahrain despite sailing through their Oceania qualifiers. The support back home because of Fallon’s winner has been reported as being ‘euphoric’ and ‘passionate’ from some of the New Zealand players, and that’s hardly surprising considering a World Cup is treated like gold dust over there in Kiwi land.

Ricki Herbert’s players were put through their paces in last years FIFA World Cup prep tournament – FIFA Confederations Cup. The ‘All Whites’ conceded seven goals en route to a bottom of the group finish, with their only point of the tournament coming against the only nation in South Africa at the time that didn’t actually qualify for the World Cup itself in Iraq. Their displays and results last year spoke volumes about the current level New Zealand is at, which certainly isn’t World Cup standard, and although there were a few promising team displays during their pre-World Cup warm up games, New Zealand head to South Africa exposed and vulnerable to a few spankings.

The most telling factor about Group F is how many strong and able defences there are, and then we have New Zealand. Against genuine quality, as shown last year in the Confederations Cup, New Zealand cannot keep them at bay. Add to the mix a rather blunt forward line of either Rory Fallon, Shane Smeltz or Chris Killen, with Herbert likely to opt for a five man midfield in a bid to make the pitch as narrow as possible, and it doesn’t look good for New Zealand’s chances. The aim throughout the 90 minutes will be the remain neat and tidy at the back, which will prove a match in itself, but alert and willing at the other end of the field as well. Set-pieces could prove their simplest route to goal as this New Zealand side don’t boast a whole lot of guile or creativity.

 

Slovakia

Slovakia will make their début appearance in the finals of a World Cup when they touch down in Rustenburg on Tuesday, June 15th. The Slovaks couldn’t of dreamed for a more generous opening game than against a New Zealand team 50 places below them in the FIFA Rankings. However, that does only add to the pressure of the situation as it now means anything less than three points in Tuesday’s fixture and it will be deemed a failure back home in Slovakia and also be a huge setback in their bid to make the knock-outs in their first attempt.

Slovakia’s group during qualifying was competitive even if big names were at a premium, as Slovakia topped a group containing Slovenia, Czech Republic, Poland and Northern Ireland. Stanislav Sestak finished qualifying as their leading goalscorer with 6 goals as Slovakia averaged two goals a game, but the player at the heart of this successful campaign has been Napoli play-maker Marek Hamsik, who will captain his country in South Africa at just 22 years-old. There’s little doubt Hamsik is a player for the future, even realising some of his potential early, as the attacking-midfielder ended his Seria A campaign with 12 goals and finished a clear five goals ahead of every other midfield in that league.

Throughout qualifying Slovakia were resilient if not brilliant, losing only to Slovenia. They did take a while to get going in their warm up games, with Slovakia justify the name ‘warm up’ by slowly getting into their stride. They began World Cup preparations with a 1-0 loss to Norway but then recovered to record a 1-1 draw with Cameroon and end on a high note with a 3-0 rout over Costa Rica. In all three games Slovakia never really got out of gear 3, which is a positive spin on things as it means more is to come. However, from an attacking sense we do have our reservations, with only Stanislav Sestak providing the Slovakia midfielders with an outlet through his bright runs and smart movement.

If Slovakia wish to extend their South Africa journey further than the originally intended three games they’ll need to overcome one of the weakest teams in the whole tournament in New Zealand. If they don’t obtain the win they need then it could very well be curtains, as two tough games lye ahead against Paraguay and Italy.

 

Match Odds:

New Zealand – 10.00 Coral
Draw – 4.30 Bet365
Slovakia – 1.44 PaddyPower

 

Our Prediction: Slovakia to WIN – 1.44 PaddyPower

This is a must win scenario for both teams as getting points from their following games with Italy and Paraguay won’t be easy, especially for New Zealand you feel. With that said, we should be in for a committed game of football in Rustenburg between two sides desperate to claim all the spoils for themselves. However, with World Cup quality at a premium in both camps, more so with the Kiwi’s, we had little option but to opt for Slovakia.

During their recent international friendlies, New Zealand relied a lot upon taking their chances when they arose and when they did they were mainly scruffy openings. They don’t play free-flowing football, nothing of the short, they are a team which basically go with the flow and hope an opportunity falls their way. With Slovakia it’s a lot more organised, while the intuitive thinking of captain Hamsik and the quick off-the-ball movement from Sestak should cause the Kiwi defence plenty of problems.

Slovakia to grind out a win.

Our Recommended Bet: Slovakia to WIN to NIL – 2.10 SkyBet



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