Pre-game: New Zealand vs. Slovakia
Day 5, Match 1
New Zealand vs. Slovakia, Group F
Date and location
June 15, Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg
Live on CBC and CBCSports.ca (7 a.m. ET). Consult CBC’s full broadcast schedule
Watch the Rogers Pre-game show 30 minutes before kick-off as our panel of soccer experts provide up-to-the-minute news from South Africa on this match.
To watch the show, CLICK HERE
What's at stake
New Zealand's best chance to notch its first World Cup point will come against Slovakia, whose designs on knockout play hinge on getting a win here.
Injuries and suspensions
Slovakian defender Martin Skrtel has been bothered by an ankle injury but is expected to start against New Zealand.
Player to watch for New Zealand
Chris Wood — He is one of only two New Zealanders to play in a high-profile league in Europe (West Brom in England), and a few people think that this 18-year-old might fight his way into the starting 11 and turn into the breakout star for the All Whites.
Player to watch for Slovakia
Marek Hamsik — Only 22, the midfielder is already team captain and Slovakia's best player by far. He has already achieved god-like status with fans of club team Napoli in Italy thanks to his blazing runs, attack-first mindset and impeccable timing in front of goal.
Marek Hamsik vs. Ryan Nelsen: Captain against captain. Slovakia needs goals against New Zealand if it wants to get to the knockout stages, and Hamsik's boot will likely figure in the move, which means that the Blackburn centre back needs to upset his rhythm for the All Whites to have hope in the tie.
New Zealand perspective
"If we can keep the percentage of chances coming and increase the percentages of those hitting the back of the net, then it will certainly stand us in good stead." — coach Ricki Herbert
"We have nothing to lose. The fact we are participating is already a big achievement, so now we can play freely." — striker Stanislav Sestak
This will be the two sides' first match against each other in history.