We've all expected the match to end the way it did, regardless of their heroics against Serbia. And it was quite a comfortable win, although the result was maybe a bit flattering. New Zealand were actually more dangerous than I expected them to be, and squandered many good chances to score, only scoring once through play-off hero Rory Fallon.
On the other end, vice-captain Milivoje NovakoviÄ again showed his importance for the team, scoring on both sides of Fallon's goal. Both goals were brilliant free kicks, one in the left corner and one in the right one. AndraÅ¾ Kirm also scored, after a bad save from Paston (the ball rebounding to Kirm after a save from Valter Birsa's long range effort). There were no goals in the second half, but young Tim MatavÅ¾ finally got his first cap for Slovenia.
Still, don't write off New Zealand just yet. They were causing us quite a few problems with their long and high balls, and they are excellent in air battles, winning almost every jump. They are very well drilled in those elements, but are lacking in some others, notably defence. Their goal was also scored because of a lost air duel. I also got to see the young Chris Wood, who is one of the youngest players on this tournament (or is he the youngest?). He had a few chances himself and was once denied by a combination of HandanoviÄ and the crossbar. Fallon and Simon Elliott were influential too, but Paston did not have a great night.
In the end, what decided this match was a great difference in individual quality, in almost every area on the pitch. But, not much should be judged upon such friendlies, and we are likely to see some completely different showings in Africa. By the way, our team has already arrived there ...
Slovenia 3 - 1 New Zealand
Oh, and yes, we also played against the Italian club SÃ¼dtirol on 29th May, and that was the result:
SÃ¼dtirol 0 - 3 Slovenia
Note that the match was played right after the tough training sessions and that it was raining at the time. This also wasn't an official FIFA friendly and will not count towards the statistics neither was it shown on the television.
And, if anybody wants to know:
Slovenia 4 - 1 Qatar
65' Koren (pen miss)
Our only other friendly (March 3rd). Qatar was a bit of a disappointment, I expected a little more from a team that almost got to an Asian playoff. It could have easily been six or seven, and their goal was from their only chance. I also believe that we should have played some more friendlies, and, if possible, against someone with FIFA Ranking above 60 ...
So next is Algeria ...