[PREDICTIONS] Brazil, one of the favorites, begins play on Tuesday against longshot North Korea, whose young star is talking upset. Possible? For more on Tuesday's three games and Soccer America's predictions ...
NEW ZEALAND (0-0-0) vs. SLOVAKIA (0-0-0)
June 15 in Rustenburg
Kickoff: 7:30 a.m. ET. Television: ESPN/Univision.
Referee: Jerome Damon (South Africa).
Paul Kennedy: Tie 0-0
Ridge Mahoney: Slovakia 2-0
Mike Woitalla: Slovakia 3-0
This is a must-win game for both teams in a group in which they are the underdogs. Says Slovakia coach coach Vladimir Weiss, "Anything less than that will make things more complicated for the remaining games. New Zealand is a tough opponent but I think we have more quality in our squad."
IVORY COAST (0-0-0) vs. PORTUGAL (0-0-0)
June 15 in Port Elizabeth
Kickoff: 10 a.m. ET. Television: ESPN/Univision.
Referee: Jorge Larrionda (Uruguay).
Paul Kennedy: Tie 1-1
Ridge Mahoney: Ivory Coast 2-1
Mike Woitalla: Ivory Coast 2-1
The showdown between Ivory Coast's Didier Drogba and Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, two of the stars of the World Cup, may not materialize. Drogba is doubtful with a broken arm. He wore a protective cast as he worked on his ball skills and fitness during training.
BRAZIL (0-0-0) vs. NORTH KOREA (0-0-0)
June 15 in Johannesburg
Kickoff: 2:30 p.m. ET. Television: ESPN/Univision.
Referee: Referee: Viktor Kassai (Hungary)
Past World Cup Meetings:
Paul Kennedy: Brazil 2-0
Ridge Mahoney: Brazil 3-0
Mike Woitalla: Brazil 3-0
No one is giving North Korea a chance against Brazil, but don't tell that to its Japanese-based star Jong Tae-Se, “We are brave and we can win against Brazil. Everybody thinks it is game we cannot win but we have a brave heart and brave spirits.” Jong also promises that he'll score at least one goal in each game and lead North Korea into the second round.