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Holy Shit balls New Zealand got a point!!!

16 Jun

The Result

In case you have been dead or don’t care about New Zealand football, the All Whites drew 1-1 with Slovakia last night. This is a historic moment for New Zealand football as it is our first point ever at a world cup tournament.

In the dying minutes of the game, central defender Winston Reid scored a header from a Shane Smeltz cross in open play to equalise (striker crossing to a central defender…). This guy only started playing for New Zealand this year after previously playing for Danish youth teams, yet he will now be immortalised in New Zealand football folklore. As you can see below he was a very happy camper and quite aware of how much his goal meant.

ZOMG, I just made history!

Reid arguably was at fault for Slovakia’s goal so he will be even more happy that he will be remembered as the hero from this game.

I’m very sleep deprived and have already had my first of many coffees for the day, I wonder how long the euphoria of last night’s result will stave off exhaustion??

NZ formation/Tactics

Note: the following is my attempt at discussing tactics and therefore is likely an utter load of crap. You probably shouldn’t even read this…

On a more serious note, I do worry about the tactical rigidity of Ricki Herbert. The Slovakians were running circles around us in midfield which is unsurprising given our formation is effectively a 5-2-3. This leaves a black hole in the mid field (It bothers me that the NZ press like to call it a 3-4-3). In the second half the Slovakians were quite content to sit back which forced us to try to play a passing game and have a more patient build up (as opposed to our usual counter attack/bang it up field strategy). Pretty much every time we got the ball in midfield, we were isolated and didn’t know what to do with the ball so we ended up passing it backwards all the time. The same thing happened against Australia in the second half. This was frustrating to watch, and even more frustrating that when Ricki did make substitutions they were simply like for like swaps.

I worry that a better side will expose us tactically….then again we did score, so Ricki is probably a tactical genius, lol.

UPDATE: Winston Reid was not under orders to get forward which confirms my suspicion that the goal was not a result of Herbert’s tactical genius. From this article about the Reid:

He admitted that it was not a tactical ploy to join Rory Fallon in the frontline for the final minutes, but that he just happened to be lingering. ”I was going up for a free-kick but the ball was going back and forward so I just decided to stay up there.” With devastating results.

FIFA World Cup: Group F analysis

2 Jun

The group consists of (FIFA ranking):

  • Italy (5)
  • Paraguay (31)
  • New Zealand (78)
  • Slovakia (34)

Group F sees a number of defensively minded teams drawn together, so I would not be at all surprised to see it win the ‘Golden Group For Fewest Goals Conceded’ award at the end of the group stages.

Let’s start with the reigning World Cup holders Italy. Every pundit and his blog are pronouncing this an “easy” group for the defending champions. On the plus side, the Azzurri collectively possess vast amounts of experience. And, like France and Germany are well renowned as being a ‘tournament’ team, able to step up when it matters most. However, this experience could also prove to be Italy’s weakness. The team is OLD, make no mistake. I expect them to make it out of the Group but perhaps not advance much further than that, although of course few pundits thought that Italy would go as far as they did in 2006 either.

Paraguay have had a very impressive CONMEBOL qualification, beating both South American powerhouses Argentina and Brazil along the way. Over qualification Paraguay also conceded less than one goal per game, quite a contrast from some of the comical defending that is often seen in the region. Recent friendlies have seen La Albirroja (the white and red) beat N Korea 1-0, lose to crybabies Ireland 2-1 and draw with the Ivorian Coasters 2-2, which is a rather more ordinary return. The final squad of 23 was devoid of key striker Salvador Cabanas, who was shot in the head earlier this year. The manager reportedly said he didn’t want to risk any brain explosions in front of goal.

It is hard to look past New Zealand‘s All Whites to progress out of Group F. They are coming off the back of a historic victory in Europe over Serbia (1-0), they played local rivals Australia off the park in Melbourne  (despite eventually losing to a extra-extra time goal), and they are led by a tactical genius in Ricki Herbert, who has revolutionised football as we know it with his bold 7-0-3 formation. Furthermore, New Zealand got well amongst the goals against Italy in a warm-up match to last year’s Confederations Cup, putting three past the normally miserly blue defence. If the All Whites live up to their potential, with a little bit of luck thrown in for good measure, expect more than them simply topping Group F: expect this…

July 11 2010: The All Whites being presented with the World Cup

This is Slovakia‘s first World Cup and hence they don’t have the pedigree of the New Zealanders or Italians. Slovakia are only here as a result of a relatively easy qualification group in Europe. Recent form has been pretty ordinary, with a lacklustre 1-1 draw against Cameroon in their recent curtain-raiser to New Zealand-Serbia in Austria. I expect repre (not sure what this means sorry) to be at the bottom of the pile once Group play comes to an end.

Congratulations to the All Whites!

30 May

Earlier today the All Whites defeated the heavily favoured Serbian team 1-0 in Austria. Serbia are ranked 15th in the world compared with New Zealand’s 78th position.

The banner below was spotted at the game, which amused me greatly.