Herbert backs Fallon and Killen

  • By: Frank Malley, Chief Writer, Press Association Sport, Rustenburg
  • Last Updated: June 14 2010, 15:58 BST

Ricki Herbert is hoping Plymouth's Rory Fallon and Middlesborough's Chris Killen can deliver the goals to give New Zealand a World Cup to remember.

Rory Fallon - New Zealand banking on him to deliver goals.

Fallon and Killen were named up front in the side to face Slovakia in Tuesday's Group F opener in the Royal Bafokeng stadium in a team which also contained captain Ryan Nelsen from Blackburn and Tommy Smith from Ipswich.

New Zealand head coach Herbert wants more from the 2010 tournament than the souvenir he received from the nation's only previous encounter at the World Cup finals in 1982.

Herbert, a central defender who played for Wolves in the mid-1980s, still has the shirt of Brazil star Socrates hanging up in his home in New Zealand, a legacy of a 4-0 defeat by Brazil in a group phase when they lost all three matches.

Victory over Slovakia would give New Zealand their first-ever World Cup triumph and Herbert said: "It's been a long time, 28 years, and it's good to be back.

"It's a distant memory but a fond memory. I have still got the shirt and hopefully he's still got mine. It was great. They fielded their best 11 against us and it was arguably the best Brazilian team they have ever put on the park.

"The players have worked hard to bring the nation to a World Cup and it's a special time for New Zealand. We're in really good space and just itching to get our World Cup campaign under way."

Ivan Vicelich, New Zealand's most-capped player, will figure in a four-man midfield with Tim Brown having been ruled out with a shoulder problem.

But it is Nelsen who must provide the solidity and leadership if New Zealand are to have any joy in a group which also comprises Italy and Paraguay.

Nelsen said: "It's amazing for us. We have felt the support back in New Zealand. We don't usually get this publicity and support. It's humbling and really exciting. Tomorrow we will be making sure we make every New Zealander proud of what we are going to try to do. That is one of our number one goals."

The All Whites, as they are known, did not have the best of warm-ups, losing to Mexico, Australia, Slovenia and Chile, but they did beat Serbia 1-0 two weeks ago.

Nelsen said: "We are very competitive. The reality of World Cup football is that you can play really well and lose all the games but we're a very good team and we want to win. It's as simple as that."

Slovakia, however, finished above Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Northern Ireland and Poland in their qualifying group and Herbert is expecting a tough battle.

He said: "They will be strong, very disciplined, very organised and we have got the utmost respect for what they did in qualifying. They are one of those teams that will be awkward to play, a bit like ourselves."