FIFA World Cup 2010 continues with its 12th match this afternoon as New Zealand take on Slovakia in Group F.
Below we have the starting lineups for New Zealand v Slovakia.
New Zealand Starting XI
Paston, Reid, Nelsen, Vicelich, Smith, Bertos, Elliott, Lochhead, Fallon, Smeltz, Killen
New Zealand Substitutes
Moss, Sigmund, Brown, Barron, McGlinchey, Clapham, Mulligan, Boyens, Wood, Christie, Brockie, Bannatyne
Slovakia Starting XI
Mucha, Zabavnik, Durica, Skrtel, Cech, Strba, Weiss, Sestak, Hamsik, Vittek, Jendrisek
Pernis, Pekarik, Kozak, Sapara, Holosko, Jakubko, Stoch, Kucka, Kopunek, Salata, Petras, Kuciak
The match shall be referee’d by Jerome Damon of South Africa.
New Zealand v Slovakia Preview
This opening match will be both teams’ best chance of a positive result in Group F as the other two sides they are to face are Italy and Paraguay who played out a 1-1 draw last night.
Slovakia have to be considered favourites after coming through a far more difficult qualifying group than New Zealand’s somewhat lightweight “Oceania” stages.
Slovakia also have the benefit of several players who experience their club football at the highest level, such as Skrtel of Liverpool and Hamsik of Napoli, whereas New Zealand is made up primarily of players who play in New Zealand, except for a smattering who play in England, albeit in the Championship or lower leagues, or Australia’s A League.
As a result of this, and Slovakia’s talented defence, it will be difficult for New Zealand to score unless they commit many men to attack, which will see them caught out at the back. The best result for New Zealand would be a scoreless draw, or grabbing a goal from a set piece and defending a slender lead.
The most likely result, however, is a comfortable Slovakian victory to get their World Cup campaign off to the best of starts – our prediction is 2-0 Slovakia. However, over and over again, this World Cup is showing that opening matches may be both nervy and unpredictable.
Expect a defensive match that goes to Slovakia; hope for entertainment.