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Nickname: All Whites
Number of World Cup appearances: 1
Best World Cup finish: Group stage (1982)
The All Whites of New Zealand are the exact definition of an unknown soccer entity coming into South Africa. Their lone World Cup appearance was 26 years ago, but the one connection to that team is their head coach Ricki Herbert, a player for his country in ’82.
Talent is not overwhelming on this Kiwis team, and the reason that they were able to clinch a berth was because Australia left the Oceanic qualifying region and was placed in the more competitive Asian region.
But New Zealand does have backing from their entire nation, so while experience and world popularity might not be traits to associate with this football country, the loyal supporters are fully behind The All Whites to see if they can’t stir up a little underdog spirit in Group F.
2010 New Zealand World Cup Odds
New Zealand is currently listed at 1500/1 futures odds to win the World Cup.
They are 66/1 to win Group F.
Key Player To Watch
A good number of New Zealand internationals make their domestic living in the MLS or played in college in the States, but one key name is putting forth his skills to good use in the England Premiership. Ryan Nelson is getting time with Blackburn Rovers and was a big reason for their World Cup appearance with a strong effort in both matches during their play-off against Bahrain for the right to venture to South Africa this summer. No doubt his play will need to be at an all-time best if his side expects anything but three losses in June.
Best Team Asset
I don’t know if you can call this an asset, but with most of New Zealand’s players not spread out in Europe or the rest of the world’s top leagues, perhaps opposing teams won’t have a ton of tape or most accurate scouting reports on them. The World Cup makes every team scout thoroughly, but if there is one team to float under the radar below them all it’s New Zealand.
Key Team Weakness
Along with North Korea, New Zealand is by far the weakest team in the field. They don’t possess any game-changing offensive talents, maybe with the exception of the aforementioned Nelson, and you would be hard-pressed to see anything but three losses and the All Whites being overwhelmed in South Africa.
New Zealand World Cup Predictions
It should be considered a great achievement for New Zealand to have made it to the Finals this summer. But that is as far as it goes for the Kiwis. And while this group does have a chance with the three teams battling it out for the runners-up spot, I don’t see New Zealand finishing ahead of either Paraguay or Slovakia.
Key First Round Match (best betting opportunity)
Look at the ‘overs’ in the matches with the Kiwis. I think New Zealand is going to allow their fair share of goals, and falling behind is going to open the play and create even more scoring chances. Particularly eye the match v Paraguay on June 24.
New Zealand World Cup Group Play Schedule
v. Slovakia, June 15, 2010 – 7:30 a.m. ET at Royal Bafokeng (Rustenburg)
v. Italy, June 20, 2010 – 10 a.m. ET at Mbombela (Nelspruit)
v. Paraguay, June 24, 2010 – 10 a.m. at Peter Mokaba (Polokwane)
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