World Cup 2010
Slovakia send WC holders home
Italy and New Zealand knocked out while Paraguay and Slovakia progress from Group F.
Last Modified: 26 Jun 2010 06:05 GMT
Italian fans were left disappointed with their teams early exit from the tournament [Reuters]

Vladimir Weiss, the Slovakian coach, celebrated "the second best day of his life" after his World Cup debutants stunned holders Italy 3-2 and stole their place in the last 16.

The match, played on Thursday at the Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg, saw the Slovaks, the only newcomers in the 32-team field, hold on desperately at the very end as Italy failed to force the draw that would have kept them in the tournament.

"I must say the whole of Slovakia is happy. It is a fantastic day for us. We had a good preparation for the match. After the birth of my son it is the second best day of my life," Weiss told a news conference.

Slovakia, who drew 1-1 with New Zealand in their opener, lost 2-0 to Paraguay in their second game but were completely transformed against a woeful Italy.

"Three days of preparation for Italy were not so easy for me because in my mind I had questions about the starting 11," Weiss said.


Meanwhile, Marcello Lippi, the Italian coach, took full responsibility for their humiliating exit, saying that he had not trained the team well enough.

"I didn't think we could win the World Cup but I though we would do better," Lippi said.

The 62-year-old, a national hero when he led the Italians to 2006 World Cup glory, had already announced he would step down after the finals.

Paraguay progress

In the other final game of Group F, New Zealand drew their third game against Paraguay, exiting the tournament without losing a game.

The three draws were above and beyond expectations for the Kiwis and they received an appreciative send off from their supporters at the end.

"I think I need to pinch myself," Ricki Herbert, New Zealand coach, said.

"If you are going to exit the World Cup there are good ways of doing it."

Gerardo Martino, Paraguay's coach, was pleased to get through to the second round but unhappy with his side's performance.

"We played very badly in the first half and we played better in the second half," he said after the match.

"I'm pleased with the qualification but not with the way we played. We had a lot of problems in an area where we didn't expect, and that was in attack."

Striker Roque Santa Cruz agreed that the performance was below-par but credited New Zealand for their defending.

"We don't feel happy because we didn't win but New Zealand were a very hard opponent and it is very difficult to play against them," he said.

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