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MrJibbles

Match Day 5

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June 15 1230: New Zealand v Slovakia (Rustenburg) - BBC

June 15 1500: Ivory Coast v Portugal (Port Elizabeth) - ITV

June 15 1930: Brazil v North Korea (Ellis Park, Johannesburg) - ITV

New Zealand and Slovakia have long coveted places at the FIFA World Cup™. The Kiwis last appeared on its prestigious stage in 1982, and were the underdogs going into their play-off with Bahrain in late 2009. The Slovaks were outsiders in a qualifying group also comprising the likes of Slovenia, Czech Republic, Northern Ireland and Poland.

But by reaching South Africa 2010, the pair created expectation. And while, given that defending world champions Italy and a capable Paraguay side are also in Group F, a majority view this match as a battle to avoid finishing bottom of the pool, New Zealand and Slovakia consider it an opportunity to put one foot in the knockout phase.

The match

New Zealand-Slovakia, Group F, Rustenburg, Tuesday 15 June, 13.30 (local time)

This is certainly a match of mystery. Slovakia have yet to receive the exposure of playing at a major international tournament, while Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel is their only household name. The All Whites remain an unknown quantity to the masses, with Blackburn Rovers centre-back Ryan Nelsen their only player to whom the masses can familiarise. Moreover, the two teams have never met in a senior international. Slovakia are 34th on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, with New Zealand in 78th. With Italy and Paraguay in wait, only one result will satisfy both sides as they look to: victory.

Players to watch

Marek Hamsik v Shane Smeltz

Both are among the finest players their country has unearthed in recent decades. Hamsik is an attacking midfielder who creates and scores goals in equal measure, and he was on target 12 times in 37 matches to help Napoli to an unexpected sixth-placed finish in Serie A last season. Having yet to showcase his genius in the UEFA Champions League, the 22-year-old Slovak player of the year could prove an examining puzzle for opponents. Smeltz, for his part, is an attacker who utilises strength, aerial ability and accurate finishing to punish adversaries. A two-time Oceania Player of the Year, the 28-year-old is fresh from scoring a record 19 goals in an Australian A-League campaign.

The stat

12 – The number of goals New Zealand conceded in their previous three FIFA World Cup matches; all defeats at Spain 1982.

What they say

“It's got to be one of the biggest games in the history of New Zealand football. The first game in any tournament is always hugely important and that's particularly true here. We know Slovakia are a good side, but we need to get something out of this and we want to get through the group,” Chris Killen, New Zealand forward.

“We will try to win playing attacking football, but I also expect the same (approach) from our opponents. Although it will be tough match, I think we have a better team. Any failure by us will complicate the situation and would mean we would have to try something different in our other two games,” Wladimir Weiss, Slovakia coach.

Voice of the fans

“Picking 2-1 to NZ. Smeltz will pull of an amazing shot for the first goal. Slovakia will equalize not long after. Then in the dying minutes, Fallon will get a fluke header into the net. Wont be pretty, but it'll do the job. Good luck guys,” FIFA.com user Sibby2010.

The question

Do you think either of these teams can reach the Round of 16?

Tuesday sees the first meeting between Côte d’Ivoire and Portugal in the history of the FIFA World Cup™, in a Group G encounter that promises both plenty of excitement and goalmouth action. In their second consecutive appearance at the global showpiece, the west Africans will be out to prove that their growing continental reputation is wholly merited. “For this generation of players not to win anything would be a shame,” says Ivorian midfielder, Romaric. Winning a match, their group or even the whole tournament will depend on the answer to two crucial questions: Will Didier Drogba play? And what kind of boost will the arrival of new coach Sven-Goran Eriksson provide?

Standing between Côte d’Ivoire and an opening victory in the competition is a Portuguese side dogged by inconsistency. The 2006 semi-finalists were forced to qualify via a play-off, but will hope to replicate the good form they showed in their pre-event friendly matches. The Iberian team will rely on talisman Cristiano Ronaldo, unplayable on his day, to get them off to the best possible start in what many regard as the toughest group of all.

The match

Côte d’Ivoire-Portugal, Group G, Port Elizabeth, Wednesday 15 June, 16.00 (local time)

Appointed in March of this year, Eriksson will take charge of the Elephants in a competitive match for the first time against Portugal. It was the former England coach’s previous experience in the FIFA World Cup – reaching the quarter-finals in both 2002 and 2006 – that won him the job, and if the reaction of his players is anything to go by, he has already made a considerable impact. What effect the uncertainty regarding Drogba’s potential participation will have is not yet clear, however.

Facing Eriksson’s men is a Lusitanian side that made surprisingly heavy work of qualifying for the tournament, picking up just one win from the first five matches of their campaign. A timely return to form brought A Selecção das Quinas firmly back into contention, with eight unanswered goals in four games sending them through to an ultimately successful play-off tie against Bosnia-Herzegovina. Deprived of the injured Nani, Carlos Queiroz’s men will need to rediscover that form if they have serious pretensions of emulating here in South Africa their achievements of four years ago in Germany.

Players to watch

Kolo Toure v Cristiano Ronaldo

Promoted to the role of captain in the absence of Didier Drogba for Côte d’Ivoire’s final warm-up matches, the Manchester City centre-back Kolo Toure is set to come up against a familiar old foe in Port Elizabeth. Cristiano Ronaldo, the former Old Trafford favourite, enjoyed some epic battles with the Ivorian during his time in the English Premier League. The in-form Real Madrid maestro, upon whose shoulders rest the hopes of an entire nation, will doubtless look to use those past experiences to gain an edge over the ex-Arsenal defender early on in the game.

The stat

74 - The number of days Sven-Goran Eriksson had at his disposal to prepare his Côte d’Ivoire team for the FIFA World Cup. The Swede took the reins of the Ivorian national side on 28 March 2010.

What they said

“Eriksson has put an added emphasis on playing as a team and not just as a collection of individuals. He has managed to change the mindset of the squad and of each player. We’ve always had good players, but have never been able to properly work together as an effective unit, defending and attacking as one,” Kolo Toure, Côte d’Ivoire defender

“Winning this game would make things much easier for us in terms of progressing in the competition. I want to be on top form so as to be recognised as the tournament’s best player, and to help the team to move forward,” Cristiano Ronaldo, Portuguese forward

Voice of the fans

“Many people underestimate Portugal, but I have a lot of confidence in our team. We haven’t really shown what we can do yet – the players know that their desire and team ethic can take them far. This team has the support of an entire people behind it. We’re one big family, and we stick together,” FIFA.com user Soniih’a.

The question

Can Côte d’Ivoire go the farthest of all the African teams involved in the competition, even without Didier Drogba? Will Cristiano Ronaldo be among the top performers at South Africa 2010?

It is hard to contemplate Tuesday's Group G match-up between Brazil and Korea DPR at Ellis Park without entering into the realms of cliché – tournament favourites against complete outsiders, David meets Goliath. Yet the first ever meeting of this hugely contrasting pair, the five-time world champions and the lowest-ranked of the 32 qualifiers – the North Koreans are 85th in the world – holds plenty of intrigue.

The match

Brazil-Korea DPR, Group G, Johannesburg, Tuesday 15 June, 20.30 (local time)

On paper there should be only one outcome, with evidence of the disparity in pedigree everywhere. Brazil, the only country to have taken part in every edition of the global showpiece, are entering their 19th FIFA World Cup™; Korea DPR are returning to the world stage for the first time since their debut appearance in 1966. Under Dunga, the South Americans booked their place in South Africa with three games to spare while coach Kim Jong-Hun's side left it until the closing match to seal qualification with a goalless draw against Saudi Arabia.

Brazil's build-up has featured five straight friendly wins – indeed since their successful defence of last year’s FIFA Confederation World Cup here in South Africa, they have recorded eight wins in ten matches played. Korea DPR, by contrast, were often found wanting in their eleven warm-up matches which yielded just two victories. Brazil's attacking quality – their lineup features such talents as Kaka and Luis Fabiano – needs little introduction and should ensure some baptism of fire for the East Asian team, who are expected to stick with the defensive 5-4-1 formation they employed to hold off the likes of Iran and Saudi Arabia en route to qualification. Still, those with longer memories would not risk writing off the North Koreans, who stunned Italy to reach the last eight on their finals debut in England 44 years ago.

Players to watch

Luis Fabiano v Ri Jun-Il

Luis Fabiano will be eager to maintain the form that brought him nine goals in eleven qualifying games – as well as 15 in 23 Liga outings for Sevilla in 2009/10. Trying to contain the free-scoring No9 represents the toughest task yet for the cool-headed Ri Jun-Il, the 22-year-old who will continue his sweeper role in front of goalkeeper Ri Myong-Guk.

The stat

29 – Dunga's experienced squad is the oldest in the FIFA World Cup, averaging 29 years and 60 days, while Kim's men are the third youngest (25 years and 140 days).

What they say

"The responsibility is always bigger for Brazil so we will face a lot of difficulties in our first game. There's an anxiety to record our first win but the most important thing is how the team should perform on the pitch to avoid any upset," Gilberto Silva, Brazil midfielder.

"You can't say we have big chances just as you can't say we have no chance. It will not be easy to compete against players like Kaka, but this is also a dream," An Yong-Hak, Korea DPR midfielder.

Voice of the fans

"North Korea will definitely show no less than full determination. However, experience is what they lack and Brazil is very familiar with the World Cup. But still, a game is not won on paper, any team can win on any given day at any place," FIFA.com user Attacker17.

The question

Brazil have lost merely two of their previous 18 opening games at FIFA World Cups – back in 1930 and 1934. Can their little-known opponents really stun the planet by making it three?

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was hoping that the n korea game wasnt the late game

the good thing about late games so far is that nothing has really happened in the first 30mins

so i dont miss anything

but by the time i get home brazil will be 6-0 up

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Group G is gonna be so sick

got high expectations,

got a feeling a big team are not gonna make it through

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VIVA Portugal

We can win this game but I feel our best footballer must start this game Danny has to play from the start yes

you read right I say Danny not Ronaldo because in terms of technique,vision,skill its Danny>>>>>>>>>>>Ronaldo.

Portuguese weakness: RB, CF,Our Coach

Portuguese strenghts: CB, Midfield,Ronaldo,Danny

IC weakness:Barry(worst keeper of the world cup),Toure,the whole defence,Their coach

IC strenghts:Yaya,Gervinho,Drogba,Paulo Ferreira if he is allowed on the pitch,".

It will be a tight game but if Danny plays it will be different due to the fact we will create alot of chances but if not Ronaldo will try and become superman!

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not overly confident we will beat ivory coast, never know what type of foolishness quieros will try...but forca portugal

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Didn't know ViP2 had so many different nationalitites.

Thought most were either West African, Caribbean or British...

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This game is gonna be sh*t

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It's not too bad so far tbh.

Hopefully one team slips up and the floodgates fly open.

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is drogba playin tonight

i beg he does portugal a ting

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Another dire game, mad how i still sit and watch them though, roll on ivory coast v portugal

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Group G is gonna be so sick

got high expectations,

got a feeling a big team are not gonna make it through

lol Yea considering theres 3 Big teams in Group G and only 2 can go through I think you might be onto something.

Wonder if Ronaldo will put in a performance tonight.

Backing Sestak or Hamsik to break this deadlock in the NZ Game.

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COME ON THE IVORIANS!!!!!!!!!!

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Weiss is going hard

LOL @ Vittek scoring though

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ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Not even a professional league in NZ and the one team they have plays in Australia

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lool jeezee

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lol @ the last minute Equaliser

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:rofl:

skrtel getting heartbroken in everything he does

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Wow Slovakia are piiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiissed

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Really enjoyed that game

New Zeland keep the ball better than England tbh

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Really enjoyed that game

New Zeland keep the ball better than England tbh

loooooool

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