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Sunday, June 20, 2010
Herbert plots Italy upset

Soccernet staff

New Zealand boss Ricki Herbert believes his side can cause a major upset against defending champions Italy on Sunday.

Italy-New Zealand preview

New Zealand were viewed as the rank outsiders before the tournament began, but they scored a dramatic equaliser in their opening game against Slovakia to clinch an unexpected point.

Having seen Italy suffer defeats to North Korea in 1966 and South Korea in 2002, Herbert now hopes the All Whites can take advantage of the pressure and become the next team to shock the Azzurri.

"A draw against us would send all of Italy into a panic," he said. "There has already been Korea in their past and that can be a point in our favour.

"Nobody expects us to beat them, but there's a bit of pressure there and you can feel it.

"Without doubt Italy are technically a better side, especially when it comes to keeping the ball, but we have our own strengths, too.

"We'd be silly not to think we could target Italy in the air. I guess what we've got to do is make sure we get the ball in that front third to create those set-play opportunities to win free-kicks and corners. We've got nothing to lose.

"Nobody expects us to beat Italy. Nobody expected us to draw against Slovakia. We're in a good space; the players are really positive. I think we'll go out and play well again."

Captain Ryan Nelsen, though, feels the Slovakia result may work against New Zealand.

"The big thing for us is that people underestimated us," he said. "The Italians now understand they have got a big game on their hands.

"All the teams would have looked at us as their banker, but now they know they have to play well to beat us.

"That is now one of the things going against us."

Italy defender Fabio Cannavaro insists they will treat their opponents with the utmost respect.

"It is crucial that we win," he said. "I'm happy even with a 1-0. There is no such thing as an easy game. In today's football, nothing is simple and we cannot underestimate New Zealand.

"Now every opponent promises a struggle, especially in a tournament like the World Cup. Once you get to the finals, it all starts from scratch and history means nothing."

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