Sunday, June 14, 2009

Confed Cup: New Zealand - Spain preview

Kick off: 1800GMT


UPDATE: South Africa played 0-0 with Iraq. The home fans would not be pleased!

New Zealand, winners of the 2008 OFC Nations Cup, are playing their third Confederations Cup.

In their previous two campaigns, the All Whites have served as whipping boys for the other teams in their group, losing all their games and conceding a total of seventeen goals.

Although New Zealand ran close in their last warm up game in Pretoria (taking the lead thrice, only to end up losing 4-3), this time promises nothing different.

New Zealand will be without skipper Ryan Nelsen, who misses this tournament because of a calf injury sustained in the Premier League clash between Chelsea and Blackburn.


European champs. They have a fantastic side. They demolished Azerbaijan 6-0 away on Tuesday - Villa had a hattrick. Number one in the world. Favourites to win the Confed Cup anyway. More?

New Zealand have recently been employing a 4-4-1-1 formation, with emphasis on supplying the ball to the team's top men" Shane Smeltz and Chris Killen.

The strong points of coach Ricki Herbert's team is obviously the confidence they have. Although they are aware that they are not soccer heavies - they are 82nd in the world - the All Whites come into this game with the knowledge that a win or draw would put them on the football map.

Again, another strong point of the NZ team is the Smeltz-Killen combi. The team is built around them and so they are the focal point of all the team does.

Finally the motivation to play in the World Cup next year would catapult them to do well, won't it?

"Everyone realises the opportunity a game like this offers us. A decent result against the number one team in the world would really put us on the map, and that's something which is long overdue. We can't just be happy to be the best in Oceania," Chris Killen, New Zealand striker.

As for weaknesses, the glaring one is that of the team's defence. It is porous, simple. The situation is so bad that Ivan Vicelich has been called out of international retirement. Ben Sigmund - if he plays - would also be playing in only his second game after coming from injury.
So Spain would be expected to do well in that department.

As for the Spanish, one can be tempted to say that they can play any formation and still win. How wrong can one be?

"We're here as reigning European champions, but we have the utmost respect for our opponents. We're taking on the role of favourites and hope to do as well as we can," Iker Casillas, Spain goalkeeper.

NZ 1-3 Spain.

However, I expect NZ to mount a good challenge.

Me? I should be rushing to the studios of TV3 any moment, where I would be on the panel discussion for the game. Adios!