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New Zealand 2010 World Cup Journey

New Zealand men’s national soccer team has made two appearances at FIFA World Cup so far. Their latest appearance came at the 2010 edition held in South Africa.

In the qualification process, the Southern Pacific nation had to win the 2008 OFC Nations Cup to win the right to face Bahrain in a two-legged playoff. The Kiwis managed a goalless draw in the away leg. In the home leg, Rory Fallon scored to claim a 1-0 win and earn his nation the right to participate in soccer’s most significant event following a gap of 28 years.

The All Whites were grouped with the likes of Paraguay, Slovakia, and Italy. However, the Oceanic country was one of the biggest underdogs at the Cup, and not many backed them to achieve anything in the group.

Let’s review the New Zealand 2010 World Cup players.

 

New Zealand Goalkeepers

Mark Paston

Date of Birth: 13 December 1976

Height: 195 cm

Shirt number: 1

Position: Goalkeeper

First international: Indonesia – New Zealand (21 September 1997)

Glen Moss

Date of Birth: 19 January 1983

Height: 188 cm

Shirt number: 12

Position: Goalkeeper

First international: New Zealand – Malaysia (23 February 2006)

Glen Moss is an accomplished and reliable goalkeeper who provides a solid last line of defense for both club and country. Glen Moss gained his first international recognition when called up to the squad for a match against Australia in June 2005. However, he didn’t earn his first cap until a 1-0 win over Malaysia in February the following year.

Since earning his first cap, Moss has dueled for the No1 jersey at both domestic and international levels with Mark Paston. At the start of last season, the 27-year-old departed Wellington Phoenix, where Paston was primarily the incumbent and joined A-League champions Melbourne Victory. However, after a solid start, Moss lost his place in the starting line-up to Australian teenage prodigy Mitchell Langerak.

He played all three games at the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009, stringing together impressive displays, including a well-earned clean sheet in the historic 0-0 draw with Iraq, which gave New Zealand their first point at a senior FIFA tournament. In addition, Moss earned some much-needed game time in March’s friendly defeat against Mexico and Melbourne’s AFC Champions League run.

Moss initially came to international prominence by pulling off a string of impressive saves in a player of the match display against Brazil in a friendly match just before the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Since then, he has appeared in two of New Zealand’s 2010 World Cup qualifiers against New Caledonia and Fiji, with the last match ending in disappointment after being sent off. He will also be unavailable for New Zealand’s first two group matches, and his selection despite the suspension is a testament to the high regard in which Coach Ricki Herbert holds Moss.

James Bannatyne

Date of Birth: 30 June 1975

Height: 195 cm

Shirt number: 23

Position: Goalkeeper

First international: New Zealand – Cook Islands (8 June 2001)

 

New Zealand Defenders

Ben Sigmund

Date of Birth: 3 February 1981

Height: 187 cm

Shirt number: 2

Position: Defender

First international: Oman – New Zealand (17 August 2000)

Although he made his international debut nearly a decade ago, combative central defender Ben Sigmund is somewhat a late bloomer. Now 29, Sigmund made his international debut as a substitute in August 2000 against Oman but didn’t earn a second cap until 2007 and has since become a common feature in Ricki Herbert’s sides, even donning the captain’s armband for the All Whites in their final 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Fiji.

Along with Dave Mulligan, Sigmund was the only player to feature in all six of New Zealand’s 2010 FIFA World Cup Oceania zone qualifiers. Still, with 477 minutes under his belt, he saw more time on the park than any other player. In addition, Sigmund has shared the vice-captaincy role with Tim Brown on several occasions.

After several successful seasons at Auckland City in the New Zealand Football Championship culminated in winning the league’s player of the year award in 2008, Sigmund finally made the step-up to professional soccer with Wellington Phoenix, where he has fitted in seamlessly. Sigmund was a regular in his first season at the club, with his career continuing to advance dramatically, as the Phoenix this year claimed a first-ever A-League finals berth.

Despite undergoing serious hip surgery in January 2009, Sigmund made a faster-than-expected recovery in New Zealand’s squad for the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009. He finally made his on-the-field come back with an aggressive 70 minute showing in the All Whites historic scoreless draw with Asian Champions Iraq. A gutsy performance as part of a center-back trio helped New Zealand earn a 0-0 draw against Bahrain in Manama in the first leg of the South Africa 2010 playoff before the under-rated Sigmund reprised that performance with an equaling solid showing in the second leg in Wellington.

Tony Lochhead

Date of Birth: 12 January 1982

Height: 183 cm

Shirt number: 3

Position: Defender

First international: Iran – New Zealand (12 October 2003)

Winston Reid

Date of Birth: 3 July 1988

Height: 190 cm

Shirt number: 4

Position: Defender

As the newest member of the All Whites squad, Reid only confirmed his availability for the first time in March 2010. Born in New Zealand’s largest city Auckland in 1988, Reid has a Maori middle name, ‘Wiremu.’ Along with his Kiwi mother and Danish stepfather, Reid departed New Zealand as a ten-year-old and became a youth professional at Denmark Super League club FC Midtjylland at 15.

He is an important first-team member at Midtjylland, even though he is just 21 years old. Reid is capable of playing as a right back or a central defender. He has played over 100 matches for the club, including in Europe in the UEFA Cup. There have also been stints with the Denmark youth sides, including the national U-21 team.

He is tall, strong, and athletic, yet also technically gifted. Reid is one of several impressive players to have come through Midtjylland’s development program, leading to his call-up for international soccer at youth level after debuting for the club at just 17. Midtjylland has been consistent challengers for honors in Denmark throughout recent years, with Reid, a regular member of the side. Herbert will undoubtedly welcome the strengthening of his backline and the added depth Reid brings to the squad, where injury and unavailability have often left the center of defense as a problem area for the All Whites.

Ivan Vicelich

Date of Birth: 3 September 1976

Height: 193 cm

Shirt number: 5

Position: Defender

First international: Uruguay – New Zealand (25 June 1995)

Ryan Nelsen

Date of Birth: 18 October 1977

Height: 185 cm

Shirt number: 6

Position: Defender

First international: Poland – New Zealand (19-06-1999)

National team captain Ryan Nelsen and defensive rock is far and away, New Zealand’s 2010 World Cup most recognizable name and arguably behind only the high-profile Wynton Rufer as the best credentialed Kiwi footballer of all time. Long a fan’s favorite at Blackburn Rovers, the mobile central-defender is now in his sixth year at Ewood Park and has penned a deal through to 2012.

The inspirational skipper debuted for the All Whites eleven years ago, but injury and club commitments have restricted his appearances at the international level. As a result, Nelsen didn’t have the opportunity to play for the national team for four years leading up to 2008. He doubled-up national team duties by playing as an overage player at the Beijing Olympics, breaking club commitments.

Nelsen became the only New Zealander to feature in an FA Cup final appearing for Blackburn in 2007, only to suffer defeat in extra time against Chelsea. He is just one of five New Zealanders to play in the English Premier League, with current All Whites Simon Elliott and Chris Wood also amongst that elite group. The Rovers defensive stalwart has played some 150 matches for the club even though a severe hamstring injury blighted almost an entire season.

Very much the heartbeat of the national team, thanks to his profile and leadership on the pitch, Nelsen’s organizational skills cannot be underestimated. Though only rarely finding the net at club level, the Christchurch native has scored several goals for the All Whites and is always a danger at set-pieces. He would have joined a rare group of players to have competed in three FIFA Confederations Cups, having appeared at Mexico in 1999 and France in 2003, only for the injury curse to strike again before South Africa 2009.

Before joining Blackburn, Nelsen was a star performer with MLS side DC United with whom he spent four years. After assuming the captaincy in 2003, Nelsen was named in the league XI. He repeated the feat a year later after captaining DC to its fourth MLS Cup.

His international career highlight to date was undoubtedly captaining New Zealand in their two-legged playoff against Bahrain, which ensured qualification to the world’s most significant soccer stage for the first time in 28 years. In South Africa, Nelsen will join the All Whites captain at Spain 1982, Steve Sumner, as the only player to lead the national team at a FIFA World Cup.

Andy Boyens

Date of Birth: 18 September 1983

Height: 192 cm

Shirt number: 18

Position: Defender

First international: Wales – New Zealand (26 May 2007)

Tommy Smith

Date of Birth: 31 March 1990

Height: 187 cm

Shirt number: 19

Position: Defender

First international: New Zealand – Mexico (3 March 2010)

Another late addition to the New Zealand squad, the England youth international debuted at fullback for New Zealand in the friendly against Mexico in Pasadena in March. Mexico claimed a 2-0 win with Smith playing a full 90 minutes in front of over 90,000 fans at the Rose Bowl.

The England-born Smith arrived in New Zealand with his family in 1998 at the age of 8, and the youngster soon made an impression of becoming part of the national youth development systems. At just 17, Smith signed a professional contract with Ipswich Town’s academy. Smith returned to England in August 2007.

A broken ankle ended Smith’s season prematurely, and he was unable to play for Ipswich senior team after a loan spell with Stevenage. He then played some early matches during Roy Keane’s tenure as manager before a hand injury saw him out of the game for an extended period once again. A successful two-month loan spell at Brentford concluded with Smith returning to Ipswich in March just after his international debut.

Smith will add depth and variety to the New Zealand backline with the youngster capable of playing either left-back or in a central-defensive role. Smith, who has the intriguing middle name of Jefferson, is likely to be the second-youngest member of the squad behind Chris Wood, having only turned 20 in March 2010.

 

New Zealand Midfielders

Simon Elliott

Date of Birth: 10 June 1974

Height: 180 cm

Shirt number: 7

Position: Midfielder

First international: New Zealand – Singapore (21 February 1995)

Although now in the twilight of his career, All Whites coach Ricki Herbert will look to Simon Elliott for leadership as one of his most senior and valuable players. A glittering club career with several high-profile USA clubs was broken only by a stint at English Premier League side Fulham.

One of the most-capped All Whites of all time, Elliott still offers much from midfield despite being in his mid-30s. Often used as a defensive midfielder, Elliott has a natural eye for goal and has long been a ‘go-to’ player in the center of the park for the All Whites.

Elliott brings a wealth of experience to the national team has played 18 matches across four FIFA World Cup campaigns for the All Whites. In 2008 Elliott was included as an overage player adding much-needed guile and experience to the spine of the New Zealand Beijing Olympics side. Elliott has previous experience at the FIFA Confederations Cup, having played all three matches for New Zealand at their last appearance in France in 2003. He then played every minute of the South Africa 2009 campaign in a defensive midfielder role adding guile to a relatively inexperienced Kiwi line-up shorn of captain Ryan Nelsen.

A notable club career commenced in New Zealand in 1992 with successful stints at Wellington United, Wellington Olympic, and Miramar Rangers, preceding a brief sojourn to Boston Bulldogs in the USA. Elliott then joined MLS club LA Galaxy where his club career blossomed. His goals and assists from midfield helped the club to some successes, most notably the CONCACAF Champions’ Cup in 2000, resulting in Elliott being named the club’s Most Valuable Player.

After a successful spell with Columbus Crew, Elliott caught the eye of Fulham. However, after a bright opening in London, a calf injury resulted in an extended period out of the game. In 2009 he joined the San Jose Earthquakes and after another strong beginning, a campaign partly disrupted by the FIFA Confederations Cup, Elliott started only 12 matches. Just before the commencement of the MLS season in March 2010, Elliott was left off the San Jose roster leaving the veteran short of valuable match time leading up to South Africa 2010.

Following on from being one of New Zealand’s best performers in their third Confederations Cup campaign last year, Elliott then played an essential role in qualification for South Africa. Elliott’s experience proved crucial in the backs-to-the-wall scoreless draw against Bahrain in Manama. However, he missed the historic return leg in his hometown of Wellington after losing a race against time to recover from a hamstring injury.

Tim Brown

Date of Birth: 6 March 1981

Height: 185 cm

Shirt number: 8

Position: Midfielder

First international: New Zealand – Solomon Islands (31 May 2004)

A solid industrious midfielder typically found in a deeper role in the center of the park, Tim Brown is a senior member of the All Whites and Wellington Phoenix set-up. Highly regarded by New Zealand and Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert, Brown has often been handed the captain’s armband for both club and country without incumbent Ryan Nelsen. With Nelsen unavailable, Brown led the All Whites in their third FIFA Confederations Cup campaign in South Africa.

Now 29, Brown has flourished under Herbert at the Phoenix and has been a regular for the club and featuring in five of New Zealand’s six FIFA World Cup qualifiers in the Oceania zone. He also played a vital role in both legs of New Zealand’s 2010 World Cup historic playoff victory over Bahrain last November.

Like several fellow national team squad members, the early part of Brown’s senior career was spent playing in the USA’s college system, spending several years at the University of Cincinnati. There followed two seasons at USL club Richmond Kickers before joining the Australian A-League with Newcastle Jets. Three seasons into his Phoenix career, Brown has established himself as one of New Zealand’s most reliable players.

Brown recently completed his best domestic season, finding goalscoring form that had previously eluded him. Eight strikes from midfield in a highly successful season for the Phoenix has undoubtedly left Brown with newfound confidence in front of goals and adds to Herbert’s goalscoring options. Wellington-born Brown will likely feature prominently in Herbert’s plans, with his ability to arrive late into the penalty area a critical asset. However, a shoulder operation in late May after an injury sustained in a match against Australia saw Brown’s South Africa 2010 preparations severely hampered.

Leo Bertos

Date of Birth: 20 December 1981

Height: 177 cm

Shirt number: 11

Position: Midfielder

First international: Iran – New Zealand (12 October 2003)

One of the more experienced players in the New Zealand squad, Leo Bertos, has come of age as a footballer in the last three years culminating in being named Wellington Phoenix Player of the Year for 2008/09. A wide player, Bertos is best known for filling the right midfielder position but has also been utilized as a right fullback.

The 29-year-old was in his eighth year, with the national team having debuted in 2003. Bertos spent numerous seasons playing lower league soccer in England with Barnsley, Chester, Rochdale, and York City before returning to Australia to join Perth Glory. The move to the A-League saw Berto blossom with regular first-team action, firstly in Perth for two seasons, and then with Wellington. Although only rarely on the scoresheet, Bertos has provided many assists at both international and domestic level and is known for his pace and work ethic.

Indeed it was Bertos who provided perhaps the most famous assist in New Zealand soccer history. Bertos swung in an inch-perfect corner from which Rory Fallon headed the winner against Bahrain last November in Wellington to secure New Zealand’s spot in the 2010 FIFA World Cup and win the two-legged aggregate playoff 1-0, following the goalless draw in Manama. It was the reward for a fine performance on the right flank from Bertos, where his renowned dribbling and passing came to the fore on the most important night for the game in the ‘land of the long white cloud.’

Bertos provided two assists for New Zealand in their 4-3 loss to world champions Italy in Pretoria just before the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009. He featured heavily in all three matches for the All Whites against Spain, South Africa, and Iraq. Though the Kiwis went home without a goal, they will look heavily to the creativity of Bertos when they attempt to erase that record on this visit to South Africa.

The most recent domestic season was by far the most successful for Bertos’ Wellington Phoenix side, who played in front of record crowds and became the first New Zealand side to reach the finals of the A-League. Bertos made a pivotal contribution to that success featuring in every match and claiming the all-time leading assists record for the club. Like all of New Zealand’s A-League based players, Bertos’ preparations have been hampered by the lack of recent regular football, with the domestic campaign concluding in early March. However, enjoying the confidence of coach Ricki Herbert at both domestic and international level means Bertos is likely to be one of the first names etched onto the All Whites teamsheet at South Africa 2010.

Andy Barron

Date of Birth: 24 December 1980

Height: 178 cm

Shirt number: 13

Position: Midfielder

First international: New Zealand – Malaysia (19 February 2006

A hard-working central midfielder with Team Wellington in the New Zealand Soccer Championship, Barron only had brief tastes of international soccer early in his career. However, five caps over three years was highlighted by the clinching goal in the home win over Malaysia in 2006.

Impressive performances for Team Wellington in the New Zealand Football Championship led to a national team recall for the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009, where Barron was one of three non-professionals in the All Whites squad. Though he didn’t see game time at South Africa 2009, Barron had an entire outing against Botswana and then came off the bench against world champions Italy in two pre-tournament friendlies.

The 29-year-old has played for many clubs in his career and is one of the few New Zealand Football Championship players in the reckoning for international honors. Starting with Miramar Rangers, Barron spent four years with William Carey College in the USA College system – a popular destination for several New Zealand soccer players over the years.

In addition to a brief stint with Lisburn Distillery, he has played for Canterbury United and Team Wellington since his return to New Zealand. Interspersed between these two stints, Barron spent 2008 with the Minnesota Thunder of the USL First Division.

The Invercargill-born Barron came off the bench for New Zealand against Bahrain in Wellington to help the All Whites qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Barron was the only NZFC player to feature in the historic match, which ended New Zealand’s 28-year FIFA World Cup drought.

Michael McGlinchey

Date of Birth: 7 January 1987

Height: 173 cm

Shirt number: 15

Position: Midfielder

First international: Jordan – New Zealand (9 September 2009)

Another recent addition to the All Whites arsenal, the diminutive New Zealand-born, Scottish-raised midfielder debuted for the All Whites last September against Jordan, having previously represented Scotland at youth level. McGlinchey immediately made an impression playing in New Zealand’s three following internationals, featuring in both legs of the historic FIFA World Cup playoff victory over Bahrain and then March’s friendly against Mexico.

As a highly-rated teenager, McGlinchey signed with his boyhood club Celtic, despite an offer from Manchester United and almost immediately made his debut at 17. However, it was to be his only appearance for the Glasgow giants, and after a loan spell at Dunfermline, he was eventually released in mid-2009.

Australian A-League club Central Coast Mariners picked up the 23-year-old who impressed in his five months at the club only to return to Scotland in January with Motherwell on loan. The move allowed McGlinchey to prepare for South Africa, with the A-League regular season concluding in February 2010.

A tenacious midfielder with the capability of threading a defense-splitting pass, McGlinchey’s skills have been warmly welcomed by All Whites coach Ricki Herbert.

Aaron Clapham

Date of Birth: 15 January 1987

Height: 172 cm

Shirt number: 16

Position: Midfielder

Dave Mulligan

Date of Birth: 24 March 1982

Height: 173 cm

Shirt number: 17

Position: Midfielder

First international: Estonia – New Zealand (12 October 2002)

A solid utility player Mulligan is most often used at left or right-back but is more than capable of impressing in a midfield role with the 28-year-old, also known as a dead-ball specialist with an eye for goal.

Along with Ben Sigmund, Mulligan was the only player to appear in all six of New Zealand’s 2010 World Cup qualifiers in the Oceania zone, scoring three goals in the process. This followed a lengthy absence from the national team set-up for Mulligan, who debuted in 2002 after progressing through New Zealand’s national youth teams.

Born in Liverpool, England, Mulligan has played for several clubs in that country, including Barnsley, Port Vale, Doncaster Rovers, and most prominently, Scunthorpe United, who he helped achieve promotion to the Championship in 2006.

Following a career of almost 200 first-team appearances in England, Mulligan returned to New Zealand to join some national team colleagues at Wellington Phoenix under Herbert. Mulligan started New Zealand’s first two matches against Spain and South Africa at the FIFA Confederations Cup in South Africa in 2009, but since then, his career has been on a downhill slide. Despite regular appearances in the All Whites squad over recent years, Mulligan made only three starts for the Phoenix in two seasons, and his contract was not. renewed after the season in March 2010

Jeremy Christie

Date of Birth: 22 May 1983

Height: 180 cm

Shirt number: 21

Position: Midfielder

First international: Australia – New Zealand (9 June 2005)

It has been a disappointing year for the former teen prodigy since featuring in the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009, which was his last appearance for the national team for 12 months. Christie also lost his position at A-League club Wellington Phoenix and dropped to semi-professional soccer, spending a season with Waitakere United. However, in an attempt to reinvigorate his career and a shot at the All Whites’ South Africa 2010 squad, Christie signed for USA second-tier side Tampa Bay Rowdies for their inaugural season in January.

A utility player Christie has filled numerous roles in his career and having started primarily as a midfielder. However, he was primarily used at right fullback for Wellington Phoenix.

The tough-tackling Christie started his career in boom fashion by captaining his country at the FIFA U-17 World Cup on home turf in 1999. There followed appearances for the New Zealand U-20 national team only for his club career to stall at various times.

A lengthy spell at Barnsley in England saw Christie fail to find regular first-team action. Still, the agile utility has found the Australian A-League prosperous, firstly with New Zealand Knights and then with Perth Glory alongside fellow Kiwi flanker Leo Bertos.

Christie was brought on as an early substitute against Spain in the All Whites’ 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup opener, helping to shore up New Zealand’s midfield defensive effort. He earned a start against South Africa but was again on the bench for the final group match against Iraq.

 

New Zealand Forwards

Shane Smeltz

Date of Birth: 29 September 1981

Height: 184 cm

Shirt number: 9

Position: Forward

First international: USA – New Zealand (08-06-2003)

Chris Killen

Date of Birth: 8 October 1981

Height: 188 cm

Shirt number: 10

Position: Forward

First international: New Zealand – Tahiti (19 June 2000)

The tall and well-built Killen offers a significant presence to a powerfully built forward line alongside Rory Fallon, Chris Wood and provides a regular target for the All Whites on set pieces.

Since making his debut in the 2000 OFC Nations Cup, Killen has amassed an impressive scoring rate. Still, until recently, he made only sporadic appearances for the national team, playing just one match in the Oceania zone of FIFA World Cup qualifying rounds. However, Killen has been regularly selected and scored a brace against world champions Italy in a lead-up match before the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009. He then featured heavily in all three of New Zealand’s games at South Africa 2009. Killen was also a notable presence in the intercontinental playoff victory over Bahrain, ensuring New Zealand’s 2010 World Cup qualification.

Indicative of Killen’s value at the national team level was his inclusion two years ago in the New Zealand U-23 squad for the nation’s first appearance at an Olympic Games football tournament as one of three over-age players, alongside All Whites icons Ryan Nelsen and Simon Elliott.

Killen has spent his entire club career in the United Kingdom, firstly with Manchester City before a productive four-year stint at Oldham was followed by an equally effective, albeit briefer stint with Hibernian. In a surprise move, Killen joined Celtic in 2007, but he found a starting berth harder to come by, resulting in a loan move to Norwich City. Earlier this year, he followed former Bhoys manager Gordon Strachan to English Championship side Middlesbrough, where he enjoyed regular first-team action.

Rory Fallon

Date of Birth: 20 March 1982

Height: 191 cm

Shirt number: 14

Position: Forward

First international: Jordan – New Zealand (9 September 2009)

Chris Wood

Date of Birth: 7 December 1991

Height: 191 cm

Shirt number: 20

Position: Forward

First international: Tanzania – New Zealand (03-06-2009)

Jeremy Brockie

Date of Birth: 7 October 1987

Height: 182 cm

Shirt number: 22

Position: Forward

First international: New Zealand – Malaysia (19 February 2006)

After starting primarily as a striker, Brockie is mainly utilized on the flanks, mainly in an attacking role. However, like several young teammates in the national team set-up, Brockie’s career commenced with a flourish. After a period in the wilderness, his career appears firmly back on track. Two years out of professional soccer ended after signing with the new Australian A-League club North Queensland Fury last year, where Brockie played alongside Liverpool’s great Robbie Fowler.

Brockie’s return to the A-League was aided by a prolific goalscoring run with New Zealand’s U-23 team, culminating in Brockie scoring New Zealand’s only goal of Beijing 2008, against host-nation China.

As an 18-year-old, Brockie was one of the most impressive youngsters in the A-League’s inaugural season, bursting on the scene by scoring several goals for New Zealand Knights. But, quickly snapped up by glamour club Sydney FC, Brockie never settled and returned to the New Zealand domestic competition.

The powerfully built Brockie played in two of New Zealand’s six World Cup qualifiers after his debut for the national team in 2006.

After a disappointing appearance against Spain at the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009, Brockie bounced back with a solid performance against Iraq. However, his most recent domestic season was again hit by injury. The 22-year-old endured a race against time to be fit for South Africa 2010 after suffering a fractured tibia in January playing for North Queensland. He has since departed the Fury to link with fellow A-League outfit Newcastle Jets.

New Zealand Coach

Name: Ricki Herbert

Country: New Zealand

Date of Birth: 10 April 1961

In the New Zealand soccer community, he is considered to be a true legend. As the coach of the New Zealand 2010 World Cup national team and the manager of the Wellington Phoenix in the Australian A-League, Ricki Herbert’s status has been elevated in recent years.

The last 12 months have been remarkable for New Zealand football, with Herbert very much the driving force. Most notably, of course, was New Zealand’s historic qualification for South Africa, which ended a 28-year absence from the world’s grandest soccer stage. It was a particularly poignant success for Herbert, and his assistant Brian Turner, both of whom featured heavily as New Zealand qualified for its debut FIFA World Cup appearance in 1982.

With a backs-to-the-wall effort in Manama to earn a goalless draw in the first leg against Bahrain, Herbert showed his willingness to change by adopting an adventurous forward line of three strikers. It ultimately paid dividends with the 1-0 win in Wellington. Success in reaching South Africa was a quantum leap for the Kiwis, who failed to reach the Oceania playoff four years earlier, with the Solomon Islands taking the spot.

That magic touch continued in the ensuing months, with the tireless Herbert guiding the club to the finals series. They became the first New Zealand club to achieve such a feat 11 years after joining the Australian national league. The team’s results and play attracted rapidly growing support, and the Phoenix concluded their season in front of a record domestic crowd. It also had successful finals campaign, falling just one match short of clinching the championship.

Herbert was a mobile defender with aerial prowess and the ability to get down the flanks as a player. Herbert was one of the youngest members of the team, but he was an integral member of the squad that reached the 1982 FIFA World Cup in Spain against all odds. The 21-year-old Herbert played in all 15 of New Zealand’s qualification matches – a then-record number of matches to reach a FIFA World Cup. The young defender also scored a dramatic late equalizer against Saudi Arabia to keep the qualification campaign alive.

His two seasons with Wolves in England totaled 49 appearances, and on the home front he won three league titles and two Chatham Cups.

After holding various coaching positions on the domestic front and with the national governing body, Herbert was appointed to New Zealand’s top job in February 2005. He was also handed the reins of New Zealand’s only professional club, New Zealand Knights, whose spot in the Australian A-League was later taken by Wellington Phoenix. As Herbert led the Phoenix to just one win short of the playoffs in 2009, the team narrowly missed becoming the first Kiwi side to reach Australia’s post-season before achieving the feat 12 months later.

Herbert holds a prestigious UEFA ‘A’ International Coaching Licence and a UEFA ‘Pro’ International Coaching Licence.

How Did New Zealand 2010 World Cup Squad Perform?

They surprised everyone by claiming a 1-1 draw in their opening game against Slovakia. Winston Reid scored in the injury time to claim his nation’s first point in World Cups. In 1982, the New Zealand soccer team had lost all their group games.

New Zealand 2010 World Cup team pulled off arguably their most significant result in their next game as they played a 1-1 draw with group-favorites Italy. The Azzurri failed to score from open play and needed a contentious penalty for their goal. Shane Smeltz scored for the All Whites in the seventh minute of the game. New Zealand came agonizingly close to winning the game, but Chris Wood couldn’t keep his effort on target in the 83rd minute.

New Zealand needed a win to progress in their final game, but they could only manage a goalless draw with Paraguay. Eventually, the All Whites finished with three points and on the third spot in the group – ahead of favorites Italy.

Even though New Zealand’s 2010 World Cup campaign was brief, they did manage to make a record. They were also the only undefeated country at the 2010 World Cup.

Main Image: Stuff.co.nz

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