World Cup 2010: New Zealand vs. Paraguay

by A.D Paterson on 25/06/2010

Early this morning (yesterday for most other people) New Zealand’s World Cup dream ended.

The odd thing is that we were probably more disappointed in the All Whites coming home now than we really ought to have had the right to be. Before the tournament began, very few people (outside of the country) gave New Zealand a chance of keeping within a few goals of their oppositions. How wrong they were.

Here’s how Saj Chowdhury of the BBC Website summarized the last group match:

“Paraguay secured their place in the knockout round of the World Cup after an uneventful draw against New Zealand ensured they finished top of Group F.

Gerado Martino’s team will now face the runners-up of Group E, while Slovakia, who stunned world champions Italy 3-2 will face the winners of that group.

At the start of the 90 minutes, world ranked 77 team New Zealand also had the chance of reaching the second round but they wasted their golden opportunity by failing to trouble Paraguay keeper Justo Villar even once in the match.

Shots on target could be counted one hand and the best of those came in the second half with Manchester City forward Roque Santa Cruz stunning the hands of Mark Paston.

The All Whites shot-stopper also had to dive low to get a hand to substitute Edgar Benitez’s goalbound drive and also push away a header from Cristian Riveros.

Paston probably welcomed the exercise after he was largely inactive in the first half, crouching down just once to prevent Nelson Valdez’s 25-yard shot from trickling in.

Other opportunities fell to Captain Denis Caniza, who before today had only scored once in 97 appearances for the national side. Unsurprisingly, only two of his four long-range efforts caused small concern for Paston.

New Zealand will rue not having made the most of their chance to cause a World Cup sensation, but three draws from three matches and finishing one place above Italy means they travel back east from Polokwane with both pride intact and reputation enhanced.”

Before the 11th of June 2010 an ‘uneventful draw’ against Paraguay would have been an event in itself. The fact that they were in a position to have “wasted their golden opportunity” and “rue not having made the most of their chance to cause a World Cup sensation” speaks volumes on the progress made during the tournament, and the expectations that brought.

Just to illustrate that: according to an article on yahoo!xtra sport By Andrew Dewhurst “Following the game Ryan Nelsen spoke of his utter disappointment, he was ‘gutted at having let down the fans here and at home’.”

No way was anyone let down the performance, or the results.

Although he has indicated that he may be on his way out as the national coach, Ricki Herbert had this to say about the future of football in New Zealand.

“The future looks extremely bright for this team.

“It will be the next coach’s job to look and find and see what they think.”

He added that quite a few of the players could still be playing when the 2014 World Cup is held in Brazil.

“I think when you look at the team 85 percent of it can go on to the 2014 programme and there are not a lot of sides that are in that position,” he said.

Having not secured a point in their first World Cup in 1982, the All Whites leave the 2010 edition undefeated. Not bad for a team that many people just hoped wouldn’t be embarrassed by their score lines in this world cup.

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