New Zealand's Brown loses fitness race

RUSTENBURG - New Zealand's vice-captain Tim Brown has lost a race to be fit to face Slovakia in the team's first World Cup match, but should be ready for the next two Group F games, coach Ricki Herbert said on Monday.

Midfielder Brown only arrived in South Africa last week after surgery to fix a shoulder broken in the warm-up against Australia and was always doubtful for Tuesday's match.

"(Brown) came up a fraction short but hopefully he will be fit for the Italy and Paraguay games," Herbert told reporters in Rustenburg ahead of the opener against Slovakia.

New Zealand, ranked a lowly 78th and in only their second World Cup, face defending champions Italy on June 20 and Paraguay on June 24. Herbert named his team to play Slovakia at Royal Bafokeng Stadium a day ahead of the match.

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