POLOKWANE - Paraguay eased
into the last 16 of the World Cup with an unadventurous draw
against a New Zealand team that exit the tournament undefeated
and with their heads held high.
Three draws, including a memorable
1-1 with world champions
Italy, were above and beyond expectations for the Kiwis and they
received an appreciative send off from their supporters at the
a Paraguay shirt
A team of very limited
international experience and modest
technical ability showed enough good organisation, discipline
and effort in just their second World Cup finals to finish above
the Italians in Group F.
think I need to pinch myself," said New Zealand coach
Ricki Herbert. "If you are going to exit the World Cup there are
good ways of doing it.
lot of people thought we shouldn't be here and that we
had amateurs who were not up to it. But I think that's dead and
created the better chances but, knowing a point was
enough for them to secure passage to the second round, they took
few risks and were rarely troubled by Herbert's team who, for
all their graft, did not manage a single shot on goal.
The only real moment of panic for
Paraguay came with six
minutes of regular time remaining when Shane Smeltz put a ball
across the face of the goal and 18-year-old substitute Chris
Wood, sliding in at the back post, almost reached it.
LACK OF URGENCY
There was a surprising lack of
urgency though from the All
Whites who, with Slovakia beating Italy, could have even topped
the group with a win.
dull first half, Paraguay enjoyed the better possession
but were unable to translate that into real goalscoring
opportunities, their attack lacking a cutting edge.
"I'm pleased with the
qualification but not with the way we
played," said Paraguay's coach Gerardo Martino.
"We had a lot of problems in an
area where we didn't expect,
and that was in attack."
best two efforts 45 minutes in the opening came from
skipper and right-back Denis Caniza with two long range shots.
Indeed, the first corner of the
match did not come until the
62nd minute and it produced the best effort with a Cristian
Riveros header well saved by New Zealand's dependable keeper
brought on forwards Lucas Barrios and Edgar Benitez
in a bid to liven up their attack and the change had the desired
After the best
passing move of the game, Benitez produced a
curling shot that was pushed out.
Then Roque Santa Cruz, who showed
some glimpses of quality,
brought a good save out of Paston from an 80th minute free kick.
"We're very happy to have
qualified but it was a very
difficult game," said Santa Cruz.
"The game got boring because they
were so defensive. In a
game like this you expect to win but the important thing is we
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