Smeltz eyeing Round of 16 for New Zealand at World Cup

Shane Smeltz believes New Zealand are capable of progressing to the knockout rounds of the 2010 World Cup.

The 28-year old striker, who plies his trade for A-League club Gold Coast United, is confident that the All Whites can defy the odds and make a positive push for the Round of 16 in South Africa despite being grouped against Italy, Paraguay and Slovakia.

“We certainly could have drawn a harder group, but of course there are no easy games in the World Cup,” Smeltz told FIFA.com. “Everyone will be fighting to get into the second round and we have the same ambition even though we will probably be written off by many before we get there. It will be three massive games for us and everyone is really looking forward to it.”

Smeltz said New Zealand’s recent experiences at and in the lead-up to the Confederations Cup where they took on some of the world’s best including Italy and Spain, will hold them in good stead.

“We played against Italy in the lead up to the Confederations Cup [South Africa 2009] and I scored against them,” Smeltz added.

“We put on a good show and though we lost we take some confidence from that. We will certainly not be daunted playing against Slovakia, Paraguay and even Italy.”

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