POLOKWANE (Reuters) – Unheralded New Zealand bowed out of the World Cup in South Africa on Thursday unbeaten and ahead of the world champions, a far cry from the three heavy defeats in their only other appearance at the soccer finals.
The coach, players and fans could never have imagined a better result when Group F with Italy, Paraguay and Slovakia kicked off two weeks ago.
NELSPRUIT (Reuters) – Australia can be proud of their World Cup, picking themselves up after a big loss in the opening match against Germany, coach Pim Verbeek said on Wednesday.
But ultimately that 4-0 loss cost them a place in the second round and they have only themselves to blame, he said after a exciting 2-1 victory over Serbia in Nelspruit.
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Paraguay will look to a trio of sharpshooters to see them into the World Cup second round while New Zealand, surprise contenders for a place in the last 16, are hoping luck favours them at last.
The South Americans seemed the better team for much of their opening 1-1 draw with world champions Italy and easily beat Slovakia 2-0 to top Group F ahead of Thursday’s match.
RUSTENBURG (Reuters) – Vince Grella, at the centre of a reported bust-up in Australia’s World Cup squad, was injured in training and will miss Saturday’s match against Ghana, coach Pim Verbeek said on Friday.
The midfielder joins suspended Tim Cahill on the sidelines for the crucial Group D game, the Dutch coach said before lashing out at the media for suggesting there was a rift in the camp.
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – New Zealand have found an “X-Factor” in their squad that is helping them to surprise pundits and they go into a game against the world champions Italy on a high, players said on Thursday.
The All Whites, one of the lowest ranked sides in the World Cup in South Africa, notched their first ever point in the sport’s biggest tournament on Tuesday, giving them an outside chance of a place in the knockout rounds.
RUSTENBURG (Reuters) – New Zealand are clinging on to their dream of reaching the next round after snatching a first ever World Cup finals point on Tuesday but with world champions Italy up next they still have a mountain to climb.
“We’re not getting carried away, we know we’ve got the world champions in the next game. We’re a minnow in terms of football status so we’re just going to go and give it our all, put our hearts and see where we go,” forward Chris Killen said.
RUSTENBURG (Reuters) – New Zealand banished the ghosts of a dismal showing at the 1982 World Cup in Spain by notching up their first ever point at the finals on Tuesday.
The All Whites, ranked a lowly 78th in the world, snatched a last-gasp equaliser against Slovakia on their return to the sport’s biggest stage having been thumped in all three games on their only other appearance at the finals 28 years ago.
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s vuvuzela trumped the Mexican wave in the big match of the day in the stands while Mexico salvaged a late draw against the hosts in the World Cup opening game on Friday.
Tens of thousands of fans blasted the plastic trumpet in the match against hosts South Africa, creating a cacophony of sound to spur their team on — or to simply spar with other supporters.
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Fighter jets sped low over Johannesburg’s Soccer City stadium briefly drowning out the constant din of tens of thousands of vuvuzela trumpets as South Africa opened the 2010 soccer World Cup with a celebration of African culture.
The stadium, resembling a massive African cooking pot, erupted in cheers as performers took to the field to mark the first time that sports’ most watched tournament has been staged on the continent.
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Australia on Thursday declared themselves up for a tough challenge against former champions Germany on Sunday with key players over niggling injuries and in line to play in their World Cup opener.
Harry Kewell and top scorer Tim Cahill said they were fit to play, and took part in training after being doubtful for the Group D match with groin and neck strains respectively.