New Zealand Tickets for Sale
After a disappointing showing four years ago, New Zealand has since rebounded impressively under coach Ricki Herbert to qualify for their first FIFA World Cup appearance in 28 years following their world stage debut at Spain 1982. Herbert and assistant Brian Turner were both key players in that first performance nearly three decades ago, and the pair has now turned the All Whites into a solid unit, whose defense fifth-place Bahrain was unable score upon over the course of their two matches during the intercontinental playoff.
Four years after elimination at the hands of the Solomon Islands, New Zealand took the Oceania crown, earning the Kiwis a trip to the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup where they made a solid showing after a poor opener against the European champion, Spain. The dramatic South Africa 2010 playoff victory over Bahrain united the rugby-crazed nation behind the All Whites as never before, which resulted in a national-record crowd attending the deciding qualifier in Wellington.
New Zealand finished comfortably atop the Oceania group by winning their first five matches prior to suffering a meaningless defeat in Fiji while many of the first-teamers were unavailable. The Kiwis then had an eleven-month layoff before a two-legged meeting against the fifth-placed Asian nation, Bahrain, who had earned the right to face New Zealand by knocking off regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia. In nearly overwhelming heat, the All Whites battled honorably in the first leg to earn a 0-0 draw in Manama. The second leg was narrowly close throughout, with New Zealand earning the 1-0 victory compliments of an impressive header by striker Rory Fallon in the final minute of the first half, although goalkeeper Mark Paston may deserve equal credit for the win, given his penalty save five minutes into the second half.
New Zealand's captain center-back, Ryan Nelsen, is undoubtedly the best known and most decorated name on the roster; the determined defender has been a regular for the Blackburn Rovers for some time, and is the only Kiwi to achieve such a lengthy career in the English Premier League. At the other end of the field, the All Whites have a number of key attackers led by the prolific Shane Smeltz. As the Oceania Player-of-the-Year and Australian A-League's top-scorer, Smeltz has an all-round finishing ability, while being equally dangerous with his feet or through the air. Frontline attacker Chris Killen is a perfect target for Smeltz, while both Fallon and 18-year-old giant Chris Wood both provide great aerial ability as well.
Coach Herbert is one of New Zealand most famous football figures, having been a regular member on the Spain 1982 squad, before becoming one of the first Kiwis to play in England, when he joined with Wolverhampton Wanderers. Since taking the national team reins in 2005, Herbert has also been the coach of New Zealand's only professional club, Wellington Phoenix of the A-League. Highly regarded in both New Zealand and Australia, Herbert has molded the All Whites into a consistently solid and cohesive unit.
The Kiwis have previously appeared on the world stage only once, with that 1982 FIFA World Cup in Spain considered to be one of the country's most famous sporting accomplishments. That squad attained stunning results, which included road wins in Australia, Saudi Arabia, and China, over the span of a then-record fifteen-match qualification campaign. Featuring teenage forward Wynton Rufer, who went on to become New Zealand's best-known export, the All Whites lost all three Spain 1982 matches, but felt no disgrace given their group featured such international greats as Brazil, the Soviet Union, and Scotland.
Coach Ricki Herbert is set to achieve the rare distinction of making appearance at the FIFA World Cup as a player and as a coach in the nation's only two World Cup appearances, while the Kiwis are the second consecutive Oceania Football Confederation member to qualify for the final after Australia achieved the same in 2006.
With an All White squad which has given everything to their coach and their nation, after four years of total commitment you can bet they will come ready to make their mark during world's largest soccer showcase. Get 2010 FIFA World Cup tickets for South America as soon as you can, and make plans to be there this summer to see just how well New Zealand does when all is said and done.