Italy vs. New Zealand World Cup 2010: Kiwis Take Flight With Draw vs. '06 Champs

Jake WinieckiCorrespondent IIIJune 20, 2010

The fact that some are calling the New Zealand-Italy tie one of the greatest upsets in the history of the World Cup, just goes to show you how much of an underdog the All-Whites were.  The defending World Cup champs were absolutely stunned by this result. 

    Going into this game the Italian media was basically saying that New Zealand wasn't even a real team and didn't know how to properly play soccer.  Well, the Italians are certainly swallowing their words now.

    Ryan Nelson went into this game with a lot on his mind.  His wife is Minnesota waiting to give birth to their child.  Even with these mental distractions, Nelson played phenomenal.  He saved a goal late in the game and played lock down defense for the entire 90 minutes, even when succumbing to bad cramps in his legs.

    New Zealand only had 3 shots on goal the entire game, but they only needed one to make history.  Their opening game tie against Slovakia was being called the biggest "win" in New Zealand soccer history.  If that is the case, this game makes the first game look like an afterthought.

    The Kiwis are currently sitting tied for 2nd in Group F with 2 points.  Paraguay is in the driver's seat with 4 and will play New Zealand on Thursday.  it may seem impossible to believe, but New Zealand has a chance to advance out of the group stage.  A win would make that happen.  A tie vs. Paraguay would give them a chance if Italy ties Slovakia.  It would then come down to goal differential and then total goals scored. 

    Obviously they are really hoping for a win, but no matter what happens on Thursday this has already been a monumental success for the All-Whites, who have exceeded all expectations 10 fold.  In a nation that doesn't even have a major professional league and Rugby is king, New Zealand has shown what the World Cup is all about.