All Blacks captain Richie McCaw could be forgiven for watching enviously as his country's footballers compete in their first World Cup since 1982. The weight of expectation in rugby-mad New Zealand has proved a heavy burden for the All Blacks, but there is no such pressure on Ricki Herbert's squad. After all, this is a side whose proudest World Cup moment is a 5-2 defeat by Scotland.
New Zealand benefited from Australia's switch to Asian qualifying, coasting past Oceania rivals Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Fiji before holding their nerve in a play-off against Bahrain. They are the lowest ranked side at the World Cup, and with good reason - in recent years they have lost to Thailand, Tanzania and Botswana. They were outclassed by Spain at last year's Confederations Cup, when they found themselves 4-0 down inside 27 minutes, but have since switched from 4-4-2 to a five-man backline, which should prevent any embarrassing scorelines.
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