New Zealand looking to shock the world

New Zealand

World Ranking: 79th

Best World Cup finish: Last in 1982

Manager: Ricki Herbert

Probable starting eleven

Goalkeeper: Mark Paston

Defenders: Ryan Nelsen, Winston Reid, Tony Lochhead,Tommy Smith, Chris Woods

Midfielders: Leo Bartos, Jeremy Christie,Simon Elliot

Forward: Rory Fallon, Shane Smeltz

Key Subs: Dave Mulligan,Jeremy Brockie

New Zealand head into the 2010 World Cup with very few expectations and come in as huge underdogs to even escape the group stage. The All Whites won the Oceanic World Cup qualifying group and took on Bahrain in a two-legged playoff for the opportunity to make it to the 2010 World Cup. A Rory Fallon goal in the second game would be the only goal scored by either side and New Zealand was off to their second World Cup.

The All Whites were unable to manage a point in 1982 when they last appeared at the World Cup. The Kiwis are hoping for a much better result this time around. Having been drawn in a group with Italy, Slovakia and Paraguay that may turn out to be a tough task.

Though the defending World Cup champions seem to be in the midst of a transition internationally they boast a powerful squad that should be too much for the All Whites and will likely top the group.

Paraguay and Slovakia pose similar problems and the likelihood of the Kiwis earning a result against a powerful South American team like Paraguay or a Marek Hamsik lead Slovakia is slim to say the least.

New Zealand boasts very few recognizable names that the common soccer fan would know. Captain Ryan Nelsen who plays for Blackburn Rovers on defense along with Simon Elliot and Rory Fallon are the most recognizable names.

One aspect that can not be questioned about this New Zealand side is their work ethic. The All Whites are rarely outworked and will need to show a massive amount of determination if they hope to contain their competitors superior skill and technical ability.

A relevant minnow in world soccer, New Zealand would indeed shock the world if they could manage even one positive result at the World Cup. A second place finish and a berth in the round of 16 seems very unlikely and would be considered a minor miracle in the soccer world.