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New Zealand announce team for FIFA World Cup opener against Slovakia

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chris_killen.jpgNew Zealand coach Ricki Herbert has named an experienced line-up for the All Whites 2010 FIFA World Cup opener against Slovakia in Rustenburg on Tuesday.

(Click here for the Match Report)

Oceania Player of the Year and New Zealand's most capped player in ‘A' internationals Ivan Vicelich (66 caps) will partner Simon Elliott - who is only three caps behind the Auckland City captain - in the centre of midfield with the rest of the team having a settled look about it after encouraging performances against Australia, Serbia and Slovenia in recent weeks.

"We've always considered Ivan in midfield. He's played the length of his professional career in that role so he gets the nod tomorrow. I wouldn't say it was an easy decision to select the team, let alone the central midfield positions but that's what we've gone with and I'm sure Ivan will be comfortable in there."

Ryan Nelsen captains the side from the heart of defence and will be flanked by relative newcomers Tommy Smith and Winston Reid after strong showings in the 1-0 win over Serbia and a 1-3 defeat to Slovenia. Mark Paston starts in goal.

Leo Bertos and Tony Lochhead will carry on in the wingback roles they have performed since the World Cup playoff against Bahrain while Shane Smeltz, Rory Fallon and Chris Killen will continue as Herbert's preferred three-pronged attack.

All Whites captain Ryan Nelsen said a Slovakian side that finished top of its qualifying group ahead of Slovenia and the Czech Republic had "his utmost respect."

"We know after playing Serbia and Slovenia, who we think are similar, that Slovakia will be very strong, very disciplined and very organised. We have a lot of respect for what they did through their qualifying campaign and for their team all round. They are a difficult side to play against, much like ourselves."

Teams:

New Zealand: 1-Mark PASTON (GK), 3-Tony LOCHHEAD, 4-Winston REID, 5-Ivan VICELEICH, 6-Ryan NELSEN (captain), 7 Simon ELLIOTT, 9-Shane SMELTZ, 10-Chris KILLEN, 11-Leo BERTOS, 14-Rory FALLON, 19-Tommy SMITH.
Substitutes: 2-Ben SIGMUND, 8-Tim BROWN, 13-Andy BARRON, 15-Michael MCGLINCHEY, 16-Aaron CLAPHAM, 17-David MULLIGAN, 18-Andrew BOYENS, 20-Chris WOOD, 21-Jeremy CHRISTIE, 22-Jeremy BROCKIE, 23-James BANNATYNE (RGK).
Suspended: 12-Glen MOSS (GK).
Coach: Ricki HERBERT

Slovakia (from): 1-Jan MUCHA (GK), 2-Peter PEKARIK, 3-Martin SKRTEL, 4-Marek CECH, 5-Radoslav ZABAVNIK, 6-Zdenko STRBA, 7-Vladimir WEISS, 8-Jan KOZAK, 9-Stanislav SESTAK, 10-Marek SAPARA, 11-Robert VITTEK, 12-Dusan PERNIS (GK), 13-Filip HOLOSKO, 14-Martin JAKUBKO, 15-Miroslav STOCH, 16-Jan DURICA, 17-Marek HAMSIK, 18-Erik JENDRISEK, 19-Juraj KUCKA, 20-Kamil KOPUNEK, 21-Kornel SALATA, 22-Martin PETRAS, 23-Dusan KUCIAK (GK),
Coach: Vladimir WEISS

File Photograph Copyright: STF Photo Agency