15 Jun 2010

All Whites won't succumb to stage fright says skipper

6:44 pm on 15 June 2010

The All Whites captain Ryan Nelsen's confident his side won't succumb to stage fright when the kick off their football world cup campaign against Slovakia in South Africa tonight (11.30pm NZ time).

It's the first World Cup experience for the entire squad though several players were part of the New Zealand team that played against world champions Italy, in the Confederations Cup, in South Africa last year.

Nelsen says "a lot of players have got shy in the past and it can be daunting but we've got a lot of experience and a really nice mix with younger guys, so nobody will be gunshy come kickoff."

He says the match is probably their best chance of an upset win at the tournament.

New Zealand's ranked 78th in the world and while Slovakia sit more than 40 places above them, Nelsen believes their recent warmup games against the likes of Slovenia and Serbia, have given them a good idea of what to expect from the Slovaks.

He was also able to glean some information about Slovakia from Norway's Morton Gamst Pedersen, a teamate of his at English premier league side Blackburn.

Norway played Slovkia a couple of months ago and beat them one nil.

Pedersen told Nelsen that while Slovakia are a very good side, they offer little on attack and can be caught on the break.

The other matches tonight are Ivory Coast against play Portugal while Brazil play North Korea.