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June 23, 2010 | by  | in Online Only | [ssba]

Footy! New Zealand Story Lighting up World Cup

Not winning matches never felt so good. Four weeks on from my assertion that the All Whites could struggle to compete at the World Cup finals, they are defying the odds and battling it out in Group F. The opening game against Slovakia was undeniably average, but Winston Reid’s stoppage-time header gave Kiwis a chance to dare to dream. That confidence bore fruit again in Monday’s extraordinary result against reigning world champions (and potential Oscar-winning actors) Italy.

New Zealand’s surprise story is exactly what this World Cup currently needs. The lack of goals in the opening rounds made a mockery of universal criticism of the infamous Jabulani adidas ball. The ball, deemed ‘perfectly round’ by its manufacturer, was hailed as a nightmare by goalkeepers, with its unpredictable flight sure to result in a glut of spectacular goals. Aside from the delightfully-named Siphiwe Tshabalala’s effort, there has been a notable absence of stunning goals. The world wants to see the big stars (Kaka, Rooney, Drogba, Torres, Ronaldo) fire, but only the mercurial Messi has really set the stage alight. Oh, and Winston Reid.

Then there has been presence of the vuvuzela, to which so much press has already been devoted. The horrendous droning sounds are killing the traditional tones of football fanfare. It is not just the South Africans (who claim they are traditional to the sport—ten years of vuvuzela-ing does not count as tradition) blowing the horns; visiting fans are going nuts over the monotone ‘instrument’ too. When in Rome, I suppose.

The France team has only mustered one point and has been sent home in disgrace after in-fighting and player strikes. Coach Raymond Domenech personified the team’s dour campaign when he refused to shake the hand of his South African opposite after the 2-1 defeat to the hosts. Capello’s England has been awful, but they at least have a chance to kick-start their tournament against Slovenia tonight. New Zealand, with three amateur players in its ranks, is providing the charm to a World Cup that desperately needs to ignite.

[ssba]

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  1. smackdown says:

    NEW ZEALAND WINS 1-1.

  2. Electrum Stardust says:

    Duitsland. Engeland. Peach Bloemfontein.

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