Fans set to be wowed with thrilling match encounters

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Pretoria - The match between Slovakia and New Zealand later this afternoon will determine whether the defending champions, Italy, move down to third place in Group F.

This after the Azzurri's dreary 1-1 draw against Paraguay at Cape Town's Green Point Stadium on Monday night. Although the two teams drew, Paraguay is topping Group F.

Now, Marcelo Lippi's boys are hoping that the match between Slovakia and New Zealand finishes with a 2 - all draw in order for them to remain in second place.

South African referee, Jerome Damon, will be minding matters on the field when Slovakia faces the All Whites at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg. Kick-off is at 13:30.

The All Whites are coming into the World Cup as underdogs; they lost to Mexico, Australia, Slovenia and Chile and only managed to beat Serbia 1-nil before the kick-off, of the showpiece.

The top Oceania team played lackluster football during the 2009 Confederations Cup. They even lost 5-0 to Spain at their opening match.

However, they might be confident and record their first World Cup finals win in their history, having lost all three group matches the only other time they competed in the 1982 FIFA World Cup.

Slovakia will participate in the FIFA World Cup for the first time in their history with the sole purpose of progressing to the next round in a group which includes Italy and Paraguay.

During their World Cup preparatory friendly matches, Slovakia beat Norway 1-nil, drew 1-1 with Cameroon before they beat Costa Rica 3-nil.

Ivory Coast is expected to become the second African team to win their group stage matches at this year's World Cup, when they lock horns with Portugal in Nelson Mandela Bay, at 4pm.

Ghana became the first African team to record a 1-nil win over Serbia at this year's World Cup on Sunday in Tshwane.

However, it remains to be seen if the Elephants can outplay Christiano Renaldo's formidable side probably without their inspirational striker and skipper, Didier Drogba.

The Chelsea centre forward star broke his arm during a World Cup warm up match against Japan three weeks ago. According to media reports, Drogba's broken arm is ten days into the healing process.

For the Elephants, this is a must win match as their second encounter will be against five-time world champions, Brazil on June 20 at Soccer City. Group G which features, Korea DPR, Brazil and Portugal is already dubbed the "Group of Death."

For the African hopefuls to emerge victorious, they will rely on, among others, Lekhwiya striker, Aruna Dindane and Chelsea winger, Salomon Kalou to frustrate the Portuguese defence.

In another group match later this evening, the 2009 Confederations champs, Brazil, are expected to teach Korea DPR a lesson or two in football, when the two sides clash at Coca-Coca Park in Johannesburg.

Brazilian star players, Robhino, Elano, Kaka, Luis Fabiano and Ramires will be a marvel to watch ensuring the first World Cup group stage victory. Kick-off is at 20:30.