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New Zealand-Slovakia preview notes

Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Jun 15
5:19
AM ET

Posted by ESPN Stats & Information

New Zealand versus Slovakia -- Tuesday, June 15
Royal Bafokeng Stadium -- Rustenburg

Storylines

• Family affair: Just like the U.S., Slovakia has a father-son coach-player relationship on the team. Vladimir Weiss is the coach; his son Vladimir Jr. is one of the young stars of the team.

• Slovakia's 22-year-old playmaker Marek Hamsik is tipped to be one of the young guns of the World Cup. Known for his eccentric hairstyles, Hamsik celebrated Slovakia's World Cup qualification by shaving his head.

• Martin Skrtel: Slovakia's defensive anchor suffered an ankle injury June 5 and is in doubt for the game.

Series history

• First meeting.

What to look for

• New Zealand's No.1 goalkeeper, Glen Moss, will miss the first two games, as he is still serving a red-card suspension holding over from World Cup qualifying. Mark Paston is expected to start.

• Embarrassed by Spain 5-0 in the first game of the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, New Zealand will want to avoid that humiliation again as it seeks its first World Cup win.

• Tim Brown injury: The Kiwi midfielder hurt his shoulder in the warm-up game against Australia on May 24 and is doubtful for this game.

From the research room

• New Zealand has appeared in four Under-17 World Cups, three FIFA Confederation Cups, one Under-20 World Cup and one Olympic tournament. To date, the only match won by New Zealand in an official FIFA competition was a 2-1 win over Poland at the 1999 Under-17 World Cup.

• Slovakia used three goalkeepers during World Cup qualifying -- Jan Mucha (six appearances), Stefan Senecky (three appearances) and Lubos Kamenar (one appearance).

• This will be Slovakia's first World Cup, having failed to qualify in the three previous editions of the tournament post-independence. During European qualifying, it managed just 78 shots on goal, fewer than 39 of the other 52 teams attempting to qualify from the UEFA area, although its clinical ability to convert chances into goals (28.2 percent; England was second-best at 24.1 percent) proved to be the difference as it finished at the top of Group 3.

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