We Once Beat a Team From New Caledonia

Jun. 04, 2010 - 05998696 date 04 06 2010 Copyright imago GEPA Pictures Football FIFA World Cup 2010 SLO vs NZL try out Marburg Slovenia 04 Jun 10 Football FIFA World Cup 2010 in Preliminary reports Preparations Preparation game Friendly match Country game Slovenia vs New Zealand Picture shows the cheering from Simon Elliott Rory Fallon NZL and Robert Koren SLO PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxAUTxSUIxITA men Football international match National team Action shot Vdig xsk 2010 horizontal premiumd.

As far as I can remember, there never has been an unfancied team as New Zealand. They are a massive 2,000-1 on to win the tournament and 1-25 on to not even qualify out of their group consisting of Italy, Paraguay and Slovakia. In reality, the All Whites have no hope at all of even looking like getting a result.

Spain 1982. The only other time New Zealand reached the World Cup Finals. They scraped into the finals by having to play a play off game against China, who had scored the same points and same goal difference as them. They won that match 2-1. The tournament itself wasn’t pretty for the All Whites. They got thrashed 5-2 off Scotland, 3-0 off the Soviet Union and 4-0 from Brazil. None of those teams even made it past the Second Round.

Fast forward to 2009, a potential chance of a lifetime World Cup spot for either New Zealand or Bahrain. The All Whites eased through the ridiculously unchallenging Oceania group featuring Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia, still managing to lose a game to Fiji along the way. Bahrain had finished third in a group featuring the likes of Australia, Japan, Qatar and Uzbekistan, then beating Saudi Arabia in the race for the playoff game against New Zealand. They won on away goals.

Bahrain had in fact been here before, four years ago, losing to a Trinidad and Tobago goal in the second leg. A nation of only 800,000 citizens wanted to be the smallest nation ever to make it to the finals.

The first game was goalless, 0-0 in Bahrain. But the decisive moment and fate came in Wellington, Rory Fallon rose and guided a bullet of a header into the net. They were in. Cue hysterics.

The draw wasn’t kind for New Zealand. Italy, the reigning world champions. Paraguay, a highly capable team who have made it past the group stages twice in three World Cups. And Slovakia, a team which finished above Slovenia. Realistically, the only hopes of points for New Zealand will be against a Slovakian side difficult to judge.

To put it in context, the highest ranked team New Zealand have beat on the way to the World Cup was 69th (Bahrain). Slovakia beat a team 25th (Slovenia), Italy beat a team 39th (Bulgaria) and Paraguay, well they beat the number one team in the world (Brazil, 2-0 if you are wondering).

They simply haven’t been challenged all the way through, they are of a weaker class of international teams, and whilst everyone does love the underdog at these tournaments, you have to wonder if you would prefer other teams in the Asian section to go through who have experience in these tournaments, the Saudi Arabia’s or Iran’s of the world, both teams who could have easily played New Zealand in that playoff game.

I doubt New Zealand’s ability at this level, it was shown in the Confederations Cup when they were comfortably beaten by Spain and South Africa. The standards of the league in New Zealand is simply not of a high standard, and several players in the team come from several teams in that league. Only seven players play in Europe, only two of those (Chris Wood and Ryan Nelsen) play in a world class league.

The important question is should they be allowed in. I don’t think they should be stopped, but I think they must go into a stricter qualifying routine to get to the World Cup. To earn there place. I’m sure the majority of European sides could easily progress to the World Cup following the journey New Zealand have taken to get there. There is talk of moving into the Asian Football Confederation, which for me makes total sense. Then, they will be able to prove their worth against decent opposition, the likes of Australia and South Korea, who regularly make the World Cups.

I don’t intend any disrespect onto Vanuatu or New Caledonia, even New Zealand are several steps up on those. But the World Cup is about the best teams in the world. The best teams need to have the same way of getting through. There is a thought that the likes of Egypt won’t be in South Africa, but New Zealand will.

The 2010 World Cup will be a steep learning curve for the All Whites, I fear that they might find out the hard way when it comes to the match against Italy on June 20th. Insufficient players against some of the best in the world. Its a mismatch if I have ever heard one.

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Posted on June 11, 2010, in World Cup and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. But then you run the risk of the World Cup becoming a European Cup.

    • The thing is, I’m not saying they should be replaced by more teams from Europe, there is already enough from there as it is. Just other teams from the rest of the world, Africa/Asia for example, which have a few teams that are more competitive than New Zealand will be.

  2. But if you don’t give the little guys a chance, how do you develop the game? The fact of the matter is, New Zealand are the best team in the Oceania confederation, and that rightly earned them the chance to play off against a team from another confederation. If that team was better than them, then they would have been soundly beaten over the two legs…

    A lot of the players play in Europe – Ryan Nelsen for Blackburn for example.

    I think that if you just had the best 32 teams in the world (which are based on very speculative rankings and coefficients by the way), you’ll just have a Euro Cup with Brazil and Argentina in it.

    In fact, you could then get rid of the qually system altogether and then you end up with a sport which is narrowed down to a few nations playing each other endlessly like Rugby, League or Cricket does. And that’s the last thing we want to see at the world cup. You’ll never develop the sport either – you would not believe what NZ qualifying has done to the sport down there, normally it struggles to even get a mention! The sport is so neglected for Rugby’s sake that New Zealand doesn’t have a league, they have a team in the A-League in Australia.

    My point? New Zealand are a crap team – they will lose every game and probably not even score a goal. But they qualified and nobody managed to stop them, so they deserve their place there for the good of the sport. We should have a world cup with teams from all parts of the world so the game gets stronger in the future.

  1. Pingback: 100 Not Out (And a Few Dropped Catches) « The Northern Waffler

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