Group F: Italy, Paraguay, Slovakia, New Zealand
Reigning World Cup champions Italy head Group F alongside Paraguay, Slovakia, and New Zealand. The Italian side will look to win back-to-back World Cup titles, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since Brazil did so back in 1958 and 1962.
Paraguay are becoming perennial World Cup participants and will also feature in Group F. After a disappointing first round exit in Germany, the Paraguayans will want to at least get out of this group.
They will be challenged by Slovakia, a team making their first World Cup appearance (first since the break-up of Czechoslovakia). New Zealand back at the tournament after a 28-year absence round out the teams in a quite appealing group.
What Should Happen
New Zealand is back at the World Cup following a 28-year absence as the All Whites capitalized on Australia’s move to Asia by winning their Oceania section and then defeating Bahrain in a two-legged play-off back in November. They enter the tournament as huge underdogs and anything positive that they can achieve in Group F alongside Italy, Paraguay, and Slovakia will be considered a superb achievement. Getting to the tournament was the goal and anything extra in South Africa will seen as a success. But, with nothing to lose could New Zealand spring a surprise or two?
TALE OF THE TAPE
FIFA Ranking: 78th
World Cup Appearances: 1 (1982)
World Cup Record (W-D-L): 0-0-3
Best World Cup Finish: Group Stage
Road To South Africa: Oceania Qualifier, Defeated Bahrain in Play-off