Football Manager Live New Zealand player to watch: Shane Smeltz

To celebrate both the World Cup and the addition of a new multiplayer game, Football Manager Live , to the Football Manager family, MirrorFootball have asked me (Miles, gaffer at Sports Interactive who make the Football manager series of games) to come up with some players to watch out for in the World Cup that you might not have heard of before, using our huge global scouting network and the famous FM database.

We're going to be looking at a player for each World Cup team during the first round of the tournament after which we'll introduce something very special indeed for the knockout stages.

Previously, any blogs that I’ve written for this series where I’ve claimed it to be difficult is because there are so many players to choose from to watch. With New Zealand, I have the opposite problem . Not because of a lack of researchers (our New Zealand scouting team do a great job), just because, well, let’s just describe them as one of the minnows of the competition.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that they won’t do well, but it’s going to be very tough for them, with Italy, Paraguay and Slovakia in their group, all of who have some serious quality in their squads.

Still, they did very well to quality. The easy winners of the Oceania group, as you’d expect now that Australia play in the Asian qualifying section, they still had to play a play off against an Asian nation to qualify for the main tournament, which they did by beating Bahrain.

Players wise, their best player is Ryan Nelsen, well known as a great player for Blackburn over the last few years. They also have Middlesbrough’s Chris Killen in the squad, Chris Wood from West Brom, Tommy Smith from Ipswich, Rory Fallon from Plymouth, Motherwell’s Michael McGlinchey, ex-Football league stalwart Dave Mulligan and Simon Elliott who had a brief spell at Fulham a few years back.

The player I’m going to tip to watch though is none of the above, but also has a UK link, and a link to Football Manager Live, and that player is striker Shane Smeltz.

He’s scored a lot of goals for New Zealand, with a ratio of more than a goal every 2 matches, and plays for Gold Coast United in Australia currently, but the link back to us is that he used to play for AFC Wimbledon, a club that we are proud to be shirt sponsors of! So a bit of bias, but he’s a decent player, and will be pivotal to any attacks that New Zealand do in the tournament.

Stat’s wise, Shane is a decent finisher, with 15 out of 20, and has decent technique and first touch, with 12 for each. He’s quick, with 14 for pace, and acceleration, with the same for work rate and decisions too.

He’s also decent with his head, and tall, with 13 out of 20 for heading. He’ll have to be on top of his game to make an impression at the tournament, but that goes without saying for all the New Zealand squad.

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williamhill.com

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