Hammered 3-0 by the United States in their Group D curtain-raiser, the Czech Republic must now regroup. The first order of business for the lively Europeans will be to start scoring goals against a New Zealand side that will be high on confidence after their 4-1 thrashing of Uzbekistan.
In their first outing New Zealand put in a balanced performance, taking advantage of Uzbekistan’s many defensive errors to secure a comfortable victory. Also guilty of a host of mistakes at the back in their opener against USA were Czech Republic, who will need to tighten things up against a Kiwi side keen to book a place in the knockout stages prior to their final Group D meeting against the North Americans.
Taken apart by the latter side, the Czechs have a lot of hard questions to ask themselves if they wish to claim the three points they need this time out to revive their own qualifying hopes. Having left gaping holes in defence and struggled to penetrate going forward, will turning things round prove too tough a task?
3 - The number of goals scored by New Zealand midfielder Stephen Carmichael against Uzbekistan, thus completing the first hat-trick of this tournament.
“We always look to play our own way, regardless of our opponents. We made a lot of defensive mistakes, especially near our goal, and that can’t happen again. We need to prove that we deserve to go through to the knockout stages. I expect the players to show me something extra,” Czech Republic coach Josef Csaplar.
“It was a good start. Beating Uzbekistan gave us faith in ourselves and our ability. We know what the Czechs can do and we’ll be working on a new strategy to combat them, as every game is different. Hopefully we can continue to perform well and stay fully focused,” New Zealand coach Aaron McFarland.