All Whites Qualify for World Cup

November 18, 2009 at 3:04 am | Posted in Sporting Event | Leave a comment
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I don’t normally go to large gatherings of people, but I went to see New Zealand play Bahrain for a place at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, last Saturday night, at the Westpac Stadium, in Wellington.

November 14, 2009 by


Soccer Hanger

Paper Hanger Blog
Wellington
New Zealand

Having drawn 0-0 in the away leg, New Zealand needed to win this game. Bahrain, due to the away goal rule, could settle for a draw.

The Westpac Stadium was sold out; the crowd numbered 35,194 – the biggest crowd for a soccer match in New Zealand. There were maybe 500 Bahraini supporters – a quite clump of red in an otherwise all white stadium. The New Zealand fans had heeded the call and had all turned up in white to support their team – popularly known as the All Whites. The crowd had two volumes: loud and very loud.

Bahrain made much of the early minutes, forcing some tentative looking saves from the New Zealand goalkeeper. But then the All Whites took control of the game, and Baharain weathered attack after attack. The crowd sensed that a goal would come. Especially when Chris Killen’s no-look turning volley beat the Bharaini goalkeeper and struck the crossbar. Rory Fallon was denied by a great piece of keeping: the goalkeeper, Sayed Jaffar, going right managed to throw out his left hand and punch out the header. Finally, in the 45 minute, Rory Fallon put in a superb header.

Bahrain came out in a more attacking mode in the second half, but after a Mark Paston penalty save in the 52 minute, the game started to slip away from Bahrain. Baharain continued to make flashing raids into the All Whites’ penalty box, but the New Zealand defence kept them out. The crowd went wild when the whistle went for full-time. The All Whites did a lap around the stadium, to thank the fans, to a well deserved standing ovation.

From a New Zealand perspective it was the perfect result.

Objectively, it was a good game to watch; especially in the second half when Bahrain attacked more.

Bahrain did not get much of a look-in in the first half. The All White defended well, not giving the more nimble Bahrainis much time or room on the ball. Ryan Nelsen, the All Whites captain, did a superb job directing the defence.

Bahrain attacked more in the second half, but did not trouble Paston; all the while the crowd chant “White White” and the All Whites continued to press.

The All Whites were patient when in pocession, building up from the back, and lobbing the ball deep up field to find Fallon, Smeltz or Killen. Bahrain always looked dangerous with the ball at their feet, but did not create many chances; and certainly did not capitalise on the ones that they were able to create.

The All Whites decision to play three strikers played off. The all Whites were able to play attacking football for around 65 minutes. With only 7 minutes left in the game, Ricki Herbet, the All Whites coach, took Chris Killen off, and put Chris Woods on – striker for striker.

Chris Wood is a player who looks like he is going places: he is only 17, yet is as big as Rory Fallon, with some useful ball skills – he is strong in the air and can beat defenders with the ball.

Now New Zealand has an even bigger job – preparing for the biggest tournement in the world. They weill want to give a good account of themselves.

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