It's official - we are going to win soccer's biggest prize. Here's how...

Well, that's settled then, the All Whites are practically favourites to win the World Cup.

There remained a lingering suspicion that the All Whites might have been boxing a few weight divisions too high in South Africa, but the 1-0 win over Serbia in Klagenfurt yesterday has erased them.

In fact, stick a lazy tenner on them going all the way.

The All Whites' path to the semifinals is relatively straightforward.

A 3-0 win over Slovakia (they're not even as good as Serbia), in the opening group game will be followed by a gritty, Ryan Nelsen-inspired, goalless draw against an Italian team resting it's best players.

Paraguay will be no match for the aerial assault and are brushed aside 3-1.

Finishing top of Group F sets up a meeting with the flighty Danes in the second round. Thanks to Danish age-group rep Winston Reid's inside intel, one goal should be enough to win this lacklustre encounter.

Portugal's shock win over Iberian neighbours Spain in the second round will come at a cost, with playmaker Cristiano Ronaldo suspended after a fourth yellow card for diving.

In his absence, New Zealand will end up bossing this quarter-final, with goals to Rory Fallon and a deflected Leo Bertos effort each side of the break.

It is likely the All Whites will meet Argentina in the semifinal - a tricky encounter but not impossible. Back a New Zealand win on penalties.

That just leaves the final, probably against Brazil, maybe England.

As you'll be told a thousand times in the lead-up, it just comes down to who wants it more on the day.

If you think that sounds far-fetched, ask yourself this: what are the chances of crowd violence erupting during an international friendly between two countries that share no enmity, played on neutral turf?

With about six New Zealanders in the crowd, it was unlikely that derogatory chanting from the rival supporters inflamed the situation, but somehow the Serbians got worked up enough to invade the pitch twice and fling flares to the turf.

So we were treated to the bizarre sight of Manchester United defender Nemana Vidic, standing with a microphone in his hand addressing his supporters while the New Zealanders milled about in the centre circle thinking: "You don't see this often at Fred Taylor Park."

Having said that, the commentators did try to compare the scenes to Kiwitea St, the home ground of the Croatian-dominated Central United. If that was deliberate hyperbole, it was nothing compared to the claim on the fulltime whistle that the result would "send shockwaves" around the soccer world.

A quick scan of football365, a website dedicated entirely to the beautiful game, turned up not a single word on happenings at Klagenfurt.

Surely the multimedia behemoth that is the Guardian online would have it up in lights? Alas, their sights were set more firmly on Germany winning ... the Eurovision song contest.

The only mention New Zealand gets is a dismissive send-off in its otherwise interesting 32-team guide to the World Cup.

"Did you know," it starts, "[that] New Zealand have only once in their 90-year history beaten a European or South American team? They beat Georgia 3-1 in 2006."

Bit of a hasty rewrite might be required at Guardian Towers. The juggernaut has started rolling.

It's just as well the All Whites are bound for glory because their colour-coded opposites are failing to engender much excitement if yesterday's All Black team naming is anything to go by.

In several positions, most notably halfback, lock and midfield, selection seemed to revolve around the notion of making the best of a bad situation.

There's not a halfback in the country who compares favourably to Fourie du Preez and Will Genia, but if Jimmy Cowan is the answer, the question is far too tricky.

Piri Weepu was picked to cover goalkicking, although there was a strong whiff of Air France insurance about his selection.

As you read this, Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha, Andries Bekker and Danie Roussouw are having nightmares over the prospect of facing Anthony Boric, Tom Donnelly and Brad Thorn (if it seems unfair to throw Brad Thorn's name in there, consider the odds of him winning much lineout ball against that mob).

In midfield, Richard Kahui has been picked despite being injured and in "indifferent" form, as Graham Henry euphemistically described it.

At least Benson Stanley had the good sense to admit his selection was down to being the "last man standing".

It was a nice line in self-deprecation, something the All Blacks might need to get used to if the gulf between them and the Springboks is as vast as some good judges fear.

Then again, does it really matter? We're a soccer nation now. Well in, lads.


The All Whites and Shane Smeltz (pictured). At times during the second half they looked stretched, but after the last-second agony against Australia, they were owed some luck.


Magic v Firebirds, tonight, 7.20pm SS1. The Magic were hopeless against the Steel last week and need a bounce-back victory against the flighty Firebirds. If they win, they're virtually guaranteed a playoff spot.