No fanfare for New Zealanders

AGAINST ALL ODDS: The New Zealand national soccer squad on their arrival at OR Tambo International Airport last Sunday. Pic. REUTERS

New Zealand's national soccer team players and staff arrive at Johannesburg's O.R. Tambo airport, June 6, 2010. The 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup kicks off on June 11.  REUTERS/David Gray (JAPAN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)
AGAINST ALL ODDS: The New Zealand national soccer squad on their arrival at OR Tambo International Airport last Sunday. Pic. REUTERS New Zealand's national soccer team players and staff arrive at Johannesburg's O.R. Tambo airport, June 6, 2010. The 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup kicks off on June 11. REUTERS/David Gray (JAPAN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)

WHILE parts of Gauteng went World Cup crazy yesterday, the New Zealand team slipped into quiet Nelspruit without vuvuzelas in blowing distance.

WHILE parts of Gauteng went World Cup crazy yesterday, the New Zealand team slipped into quiet Nelspruit without vuvuzelas in blowing distance.

A strong police presence was evident at the Kruger-Mpumalanga Airport. The only problem is there wasn't a supporter in sight for the boys from Down Under.

Straight from the SAA Airlink plane, which touched down at 10.25am, the All Whites received VIP treatment as they boarded their bus on the airport tarmac before being whisked away to their base for the next few days.

Up against Slovakia next Tuesday at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, the Kiwis are entering the tournament as underdogs, with local bookmakers offering odds of 200-1 on their lifting the coveted World Cup trophy at Soccer City on July 11.

The last time the Kiwis played in a World Cup was back in 1982 in Spain, when they were knocked out in the first round. This time round things don't look any easier for them in Group F as they also come up against Italy and Paraguay.

Known more for its rugby sides than its soccer teams, New Zealand's population of 4million people are behind their boys and though their games will be shown in the very early hours of the morning NZ time, there will be no shortage of fans braving the chilly mornings with a cup of coffee and their fingers crossed - against all odds - that an upset may happen.

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