Morning Ticker: Paraguay rolls, Zola set for Hammers and New Zealand cruises

Morning Ticker: Paraguay rolls, Zola set for Hammers and New Zealand cruises

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Morning Ticker: Paraguay rolls, Zola set for Hammers and New Zealand cruises

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Paraguay just keeps on rolling.

Led by two first-half goals, including one from Nelson Valdez, the Paraguayans extended their lead atop the CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifying table by recording a 2-0 victory against Venezuela on Tuesday night.

The victory pushed Paraguay five points clear of traditional powers Brazil and Argentina, which both play qualifiers tonight.

Columbus Crew striker Alejandro Moreno started and played 90 minutes for Venezuela while New York Red Bulls midfielder Jorge Rojas dressed, but did not play.

Here are some other news stories from this morning and last night:

Zola set to become West Ham manager

Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola is set to become West Ham United’s new manager after reportedly accepting the position on Wednesday.

Currently the Italian Under-21 national team (assistant) manager, Zola would replace former Hammers manager Alan Curbishly, who resigned a week ago. One of the best and most popular players in Chelsea history, the 42-year-old Zola beat out the likes of Roberto Donadoni and Michael Laudrup for the position. Croatian national team manager and former West Ham standout Slaven Bilic was also linked to the job.

Kiwis top New Caledonia

New Zealand posted a 3-0 World Cup qualifying victory over New Caledonia in Oceania group play on Wednesday.

Striker Shane Smeltz netted two goals while Jeremy Christie headed home a cross from former New England Revolution defender Tony Lochhead to make the final 3-0.

MLS was well-represented on the New Zealand roster, with three current and three former MLS players on the squad. Toronto FC striker Jarrod Smith started and played 90 minutes, Columbus Crew midfielder Duncan Oughton started and played 65 minutes, and New York Red Bulls defender Andrew Boyens came off the bench and played 25 minutes for the Kiwis. Former D.C. United defender Ryan Nelsen, former Columbus midfielder Simon Elliot and Lochhead were all in the starting lineup for New Zealand.

New Zealand has already won the Oceania group after beating New Caledonia on Saturday, and will play a home-and-home series against the fifth-place team in the Asian qualifying group in the fall of 2009 for a place in the 2010 World Cup.

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That’s all for now. I will be back with some more posts later this morning. What do you think of the above stories? Will Paraguay finish on top of CONMEBOL? Is Zola the right man for the West Ham job? Do you think New Zealand can actually reach the World Cup?

Share your thoughts on these, and any other soccer stories from the morning or last night, in the comments section below.

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