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Olympics

  • 26 July 2012
  • • 19:45
  • • City of Coventry Stadium, Coventry
  • Referee: B. Gassama
  • • Attendance: 14457
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Belarus - New Zealand Preview: The Red Devils make tournament debut as Group C kicks off

Belarus - New Zealand Preview: The Red Devils make tournament debut as Group C kicks off

The eastern European nation have never featured in a major event since they gained independence from the Soviet Union 21 years ago and are currently on a six-game winless run

  PROBABLE LINEUPS

Belarus

Hutar
Hawrylovich, Kuzmyanok, Palitsevich, Vitus

Drahun, Baha, Aleksiyevich, Bressan
Khvashchynski, Kornilenko
New Zealand

Gleeson
Hogg, Nelsen, Musa, Smith

Barbarouses, McGlinchey, McGeorge, Rojas
Smeltz, Wood

Belarus are expected to name their two talismanic presences, Sergei Kornilenko and Renan Bressan, in their starting line-up as they look for a first ever win at a competitive tournament.

The duo are two of the squad's over-age players, with the versatile Stanislaw Drahun being the other, and will look to lead their younger peers by example in this Group C opener.

New Zealand, meanwhile, will also look to build their team around a famous presence as defensive cornerstone Ryan Nelsen attempts to lead his side to glory.

West Brom youngster Chris Wood will look to continue his partnership with Perth Glory FC striker Shane Smeltz with both strikers linking up in the World Cup in South Africa just two years ago.

Another World Cup squad member Michael McGlinchey, formerly of Motherwell, will also be a crucial part of the side with his box-to-box runs from midfield.

  DID YOU KNOW?
  • Belarus have yet to appear in a competitive tournament finals since the country was established in 1991 after gaining independence from the Soviet Union.
  • The eastern Europeans reached the semi-finals of the Under-21 European Championship in 2011, however, with several players from that squad featuring at the Games.
  • New Zealand's head coach Neil Emblen has the more experienced squad to choose from; 13 players in this squad have played for the All Whites' senior national team with five of those playing in the 2010 World Cup, including West Brom's Chris Wood (pictured right).
  • The Kiwis have won three and lost just one of their six games building up to this competition.
  • The All Whites scored an impressive 15 goals in four qualifying games for this event, although 10 of those came in one match - against Tonga.
  • They made their Olympics debut in Beijing four year ago, drawing 1-1 with China, losing 5-0 to Brazil and also losing to eventual semi-finalists Belgium 1-0.

Players to watch

S. Kornilenko

Position: Attacker

Games: 3

  • 0
  • 1
  • 0
As one of Belarus' over-age individuals, pressure will most certainly be on Krylia Sovetov forward, who is the country's fourth most prolific striker in their 21-year history. The Europeans will certainly be up against it in a group that also contains Brazil and Egypt, so the 29-year-old, seen as Belarus' primary offensive weapon, will be looking to get his country off to the perfect start here.

R. Nelsen

Position:

Games: 0

  • 0
  • 0
  • 0
The experienced centre-half secured a switch to link up with his former Blackburn manager Mark Hughes at QPR and will be looking to show his new boss why he recruited him. The veteran will be key if the unfancied Kiwis are to get out of what appears to be too difficult a group.

Editor's Prediction

This has the potential to be a tight game with both sides lacking the star names that other nations possess in their armouries.

Belarus, though, do have the type of players in their attack to cause damage to a weak-looking New Zealand backline, despite the excellent marshalling of Nelsen. The onus will be on Kornilenko and expect the Krylia Sovetov man to deliver.

Last Five Matches

Head To Head

Belarus U23

New Zealand U23

Wins
1
0
0
Wins

Betting & Predictions

Reader's Predictions

Belarus Under 23 BEL
Belarus Under 23 Belarus U23
Draw
New Zealand Under 23 NEW
New Zealand Under 23 New Zealand U23
16%
16%
68%

Top 3 Predictions

Belarus Under 23 BEL
0 - 2
New Zealand Under 23 NEW
Belarus Under 23 BEL
1 - 1
New Zealand Under 23 NEW
Belarus Under 23 BEL
0 - 3
New Zealand Under 23 NEW

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