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All Whites ready for World Cup challenge

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Oliver Brett | 08:00 UK time, Saturday, 5 June 2010

When Dr Ceri Evans, clinical director of the Canterbury Regional Forensic Psychiatry Service in New Zealand, sends an e-mail, seven sets of initials marking his various academic and medical qualifications follow his name.

But there is no clue that the 46-year-old father-of-three has had time to squeeze a whole extra life in between studying at medical school and his current job, treating criminals with mental disorders.

A football-mad teenager when New Zealand qualified for the 1982 World Cup, Evans became captain and was a regular central defender in the national side until 1993 while playing five seasons in England for Oxford United. He is currently a part-time youth coach of the Mainland Academy.

As you would expect, he is methodically analytical when discussing the All Whites' hopes for 2010 - he was at Wellington's "Cake-Tin" stadium last November when victory over Bahrain achieved their second World Cup qualification.

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But there is much else to discuss with a man who is still fondly remembered by Oxford fans as a vital component in the side which frequently over-achieved in the post-Robert Maxwell era, marshalling the defence alongside players like Andy Melville and Steve Foster.

Despite being born and raised in a country where athletic endeavour is generally geared towards rugby union, with an occasional summer sideline in cricket, Evans was steeped in football from a young age.

Father Gwyn played for Crystal Palace, and young Ceri would order copies of Shoot! magazine, which arrived three weeks late, via surface mail. He began playing in New Zealand's national league at 16 but was just a fraction too young to feature in the squad which qualified for Espana '82.

However he has fond memories of the historic qualification for that tournament, only the second time (following Australia's appearance in 1974) that the World Cup had featured a side from Oceania.

"There were so many games to qualify for 1982, two separate groups and then a play-off against China," he says. "There was a sort of storybook quality to it, and some dramatic moments because there were so many tight games home and away."

"It was tremendous in terms of the profile within New Zealand of the players, and people started to know most of the side. They're still well-known for what they did.

"When they qualified for the second group they had to beat Saudi Arabia in Riyadh by more than six goals and were 5-0 up at half-time. But they didn't score any more so ended up facing a play-off in Singapore against China. Wynton Rufer scored a fantastic goal [the second in a 2-1 win played in front of 60,000 mainly Chinese-supporting fans] and they were off to Spain."

Wynton Rufer playing for Werder BremenFormer New Zealand star Wynton Rufer in his pomp at Werder Bremen

Though New Zealand lost all three games in the World Cup finals a few months later, Rufer, a 19-year-old striker, was unleashed onto the global stage - and went on to have a significant professional career in Switzerland, and then in Germany's Bundesliga with Werder Bremen.

Evans reaches for the superlatives when describing a player who he would count as a team-mate on many occasions.

"He was an extraordinary talent and will be our best player forever. One of the stories I heard was that when Franz Beckenbauer was West Germany coach he said that if Wynton had been German he would have been in line for selection. That's how good he was."

After 1982, there was a surge in interest among young New Zealanders for football. "They all had their local heroes and they could see the All Whites could play on the world stage," says Evans.

Nevertheless, they have had to wait 28 long years to achieve their second World Cup finals spot, and this time fans expect big things from Blackburn Rovers captain Ryan Nelsen, a 32-year-old central defender who is also skipper of his national side.

Interestingly, Evans says the fact Nelsen commands a lofty Premier League wage - the like of which must seem like pure fantasy to many New Zealanders - has helped raise his profile back home as much as his actual performances.

But the doctor adds: "He deserves all the plaudits he gets. He's a good Christchurch lad, well respected because he's clear about his roots, is true to his roots and speaks openly and frankly about things.

"I was there when New Zealand qualified in Wellington. It was an incredible night which engaged New Zealand again and made heroes, and that night Ryan was immense.

"He's the emotional heart of the side, he's a leader of men. There are other good players in the side but he's the defining one and the one that holds them together. He was so strong and so clever in his play. Without him it's questionable as to whether we would have qualified."

Ryan NelsenRyan Nelsen blocks a Bahrain free-kick on the night New Zealand progressed to the 2010 finals

Evans was left wondering whether that night last November might have provided the best atmosphere ever witnessed at a sporting occasion in New Zealand.

"It was an extraordinary night," he says. "A rugby crowd are far more stoical and don't sing and don't generate the same atmosphere."

Occupying the same position in central defence as Nelsen does now for the All Whites, Evans was signed by Oxford United in the final weeks of the ill-fated coaching regime of Mark Lawrenson, in 1988-89.

Oxford were coming to terms with life in Division Two after three heady seasons in the top flight, and Evans had just won a Blue at Oxford University, where he had gone to study on a Rhodes scholarship.

Dr Ceri Evans today

He enjoyed his time enormously at the club - once his team-mates had got over the shock they were sharing a dressing-room with a qualified doctor who was also a university student.

"A few of them didn't really believe I was a doctor. I was a bit different in that way, but sport has a way of transcending things anyway so you just get on with the football and earn your respect that way," he says.

"I was coming home each summer and playing for New Zealand in the off-season.
We played the full England side twice out there, Gary Lineker and all that crew."

By 1993, Evans was still playing well for Oxford, but turned down the offer of a new contract from manager Brian Horton and headed home to New Zealand.

"I was 29, wanting to specialise, knowing that was going to take about five to 10 years. To do that you have to think about the training you have to do and the hours you have to put in so you have to weigh these things up. I decided it was only realistic for me to go back to New Zealand."

Since then, the other side of his life has blossomed. In Christchurch, his day-to-day job includes running prison clinics for patients with mental disorders, and assessing whether people are mentally fit to stand trial. He is also called on as an expert witness in trials.

Not that the football side of his life has been forgotten: "I've got two boys, 13 and 12, who are mad keen about football. I coach at the academy my boys are in, several evenings a week."

Given his background, he is also getting "more and more requests" to help out on the high-performance side of youth coaching at a national level, particularly with the mental aspect.

So how does he assess New Zealand's likely performance in South Africa?

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Evans is candid: "Every other team wanted to draw us. We're not the most technically advanced side but we will be capable, tactically well-versed and the coach Ricki Herbert has shown a certain strategic acumen to get past Bahrain and other sides.

"If things go our way we've got the capability to score goals and we've certainly got the capability to defend. Every match is a two-horse race. You impose your rhythm on another team and don't know what might happen.

"If we concede early it could be tough, but if the top players are fit and injury-free, if the other team's not playing particularly well, then we are good enough to create a few opportunities, and with a couple of pieces of skill you never know."

Rank outsiders for the World Cup they may be (some bookmakers rate them 3,000-1 no-hopers), but after a 28-year wait for a second shot at the big time New Zealand will not want to fire blanks.


  • Comment number 1.

    It would be great to see New Zealand do well at the world cup.

  • Comment number 2.

    Ceri Evans was a Titan for NZ; clever, tough, skilful. What a shame he couldn't be part of an experience the All Whites are currently having.

    Every World Cup produces shocks and if we're to win a match it will undoubtedly be a big shock. But make no mistake, the All Whites are capable of getting three points against Paraguay or Slovenia. And perhaps a draw against the other.

    Four points? Best goal difference? Second round? Dare to dream boys!!

  • Comment number 3.

    Good Luck New Zealand. I will be supporting them in the World Cup. Its great to see footballers putting things back into society after they finished their careers.

    Their fans seem to be interested in the game, this could be the first qualification of many for NZ after Australia moved into Asian qualifying. In the fulness of time there could be pressure on NZ to move as well.

  • Comment number 4.

    If FIFA hadnt fiddled the qualifiers by putting Australia in the Asian group - rather than in Oceania where it ought to be and always has been - then NZ wouldnt be there.

    So they've kind of had their slice of luck already.

    Hope they enjoy the experience.

    But I cant see them getting any points whatsoever.

  • Comment number 5.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 6.

    I had the privilege of playing out there in Auckland and the coutry and its people were fantastic. It would be so great to see them do well and give them the impetus to really kick on with their national league. Lets hope they do better than the Aussie's so they have bragging rights for the next 4 years!

  • Comment number 7.

    It's odd that Australia decided to join the Asian qualifying system...any more info on why that happened apart from increased competition? Does it benefit their chances of hosting a future tournament if they must compete with China, Japan et al or guarantee their votes?

    Are New Zealand 'default' Oceanic hosts if Fifa continue rotating the event through the confederations or do they have to play-off against Asia for that right too?

  • Comment number 8.

    1 good central defender in your team is useless when playing on the biggest and grandest stage of them all

  • Comment number 9.

    I got New Zealand in the school sweepstake, so I'm gonna be cheering them on!!!! You never know, one win could do it for them, thats all it needs.

  • Comment number 10.

    @The Midland 20

    "So they've had their slice of luck already... But I cant see them getting any points whatsoever."

    Churlish or what?! It wasn't luck that got the team to finals, it was FIFA looking to expand the game, then the All Whites' sheer hard graft and guts.

    Using your logic, FIFA should just choose the top 32 teams in the world rankings on January 1.

    Wouldn't that make for a colourful, global experience? *YAWN*

    The All Whites will definitely get points, quite possibly only one, but that will be a mighty result for NZ football.

  • Comment number 11.

    JoC - putting Australia into Asia was cynical rather than odd - good for the Aussies but a travesty of geography (I understand The Midland's sentiments in post #4 there). To me, it would be more consistent to combine Asia with Oceania and have regional qualifiers to weed out the likes of Vanuatu and my home, Cambodia.

    Countries lobby/bid to host the World Cup - there is no strict rota of confederations and I don't think anyone foresees Oceania ever getting it - unless Australia even more cynically rejoined.

  • Comment number 12.

    The midland 20 is probably about right - it would have been NZ or Australia qualifying, definitely not both - and the chances of them getting any points are remote at best. I don't know where Ceri Evans was getting his copies of Shoot, but when I was growing up in NZ mine was there every week, along with Scorcher and Score, and seemed pretty much bang up to date. Sounds like a bit of journalist licence to me....

    I remember the 82 World cup very fondly, most of the NZ team were rejects from Britain - Bobby Almond was an apprentice at Spurs if I remember correctly, and played as a kid with Souness - but they gave a great account of themselves and did us proud. The qualifying was almost as much fun as we played 15 matches. During the actual World Cup, with games kicking off around 8 or 9 in the morning, my football team all took the days off and had a huge breakfast along with copious amounts of beer - starting at 7.30 in the morning...ahhh, great days!

    Good luck to them, but I won't be putting a lot of my hard earned their way.

  • Comment number 13.

    #11 Andy - thanks for the info. I also think it would be a good idea to combine Asia with Oceania too...costs permitting. Suppose one day we'll see open qualifying throughout the entire World - now that would be interesting.

    I was looking on Fifa's website and found a page dating back to 2007 which had the headline 'Rotation ends in 2018'
    - it's main thrust being 'as from 2018, the hosting of the FIFA World Cup™ will cease to be rotated' adding one major reason was because only Brazil bid for 2014 from South America. Don't remember Oceania even being given the opportunity!? Can see Oz/NZ definately hosting it one day though - Sydney had a brilliant Olympics.

  • Comment number 14.

    People look at this issue as ONLY affecting the Australia national team at senior level. The fact of the matter is, it allows the Australia youth teams etc to play far stronger opposition and as a result get a stronger development. It also helps the migration of Australian players across Asia via the 3+1 rule.

    I think the biggest impact however has been the domestic game which is benefiting from being able to compete in the Asian Champions League alongside teams from Korea, China, Japan etc. If you look at how the K-league and J-league was formed and how it had a massive impact in rejuvenating and popularizing the sport in those countries, the same can be said of the overall aim of the A-league. Australia would have died a slow death by staying in the OFC competing against semi-professional and amateur sides.

    Likewise, since Australia left the OFC to join the AFC - New Zealand and the other Oceania nations are in a much stronger position themselves to grow as Australia is not constantly denying them the right to play in continental competitions in all levels. Hekari United from Papua New Guinea have qualified for the World Club Cup in Dubai later this year whereas Tahiti represented Oceania in the u20 World Club Cup last year.

    Its been a positive move for all methinks.

  • Comment number 15.

    Best of luck to NZ from this Aussie. Show the ANZAC spirit, guys, and know that there are many across the Tasman that are hoping you do well.

  • Comment number 16.

    I think you will find that Australia applied for membership of the Asian Federation before the last world cup and were a member of the Asian Federation when they competed at the last world cup (though qualified whilst still in the Oceana federation). It wasn't FIFA fiddling anything, it was the Aussies wanting to join Asia as it was a huge step up and provided more competition for them. FIFA wasn't even involved as it was a decision for the Asian Federation to make, not FIFA.

    Previously Australia would steam-roller all the other countries and would only face any competition in the the 2 legged play-off they played every 4 years for World Cup qualification, which is hardly ideal. Now they play against a higher quality of opposition, as will the youth teams and the club sides are part of the Asian Champions League.

    I can't see New Zealand reaching that same position where they need to join Asia to survive, but of course without Australia taking up the World Cup berth every 4 years New Zealand will get more shots at the World Cup and it will only benefit football's exposure there.

  • Comment number 17.

    Its great that New Zealand are in the World Cup. It will be really good for the game out there as well and hopefully we may see professional football coming there in the not too distant future. There is certainly the sporting pedigree for a competitive league there.

    As for Australia moving that was due to the fact that an Oceanian team could only (and this remains the case) qualify via a play-off with an Asian team. The Australians rightly argued that they should be given the opportunity to qualify automatically. However I think FIFA have been short-sighted. I appreciate that Oceania is small but it is being neglected. Perhaps FIFA should incorporate Oceania with South-East Asia and have a separate qualifying tournament that way (maybe with a Pacific Island team as in Rugby).

    But going back to New Zealand. Best of luck the World Cup and lets hope that football takes the place of rugby there!! The only truly global sport!!

  • Comment number 18.

    Aarfy_Aardvark gives a great overall picture of what the move of Australian football has done for themselves and the rest of the OFC.

    Odd footballing Geography can be found everywhere, Israel and Kazakhstan being in UEFA spring to mind.

    Going back to the blog piece it seems crazy in these money rich times of football for a player to choose to leave the game early for a career. It makes you wonder the talents that have been lost from other sports due to the individual wanting to pursue a different career for a better salary or a perceived higher level of personal fulfillment. - English Footballers Abroad

  • Comment number 19.

    Aarfy_Aardvark is bang on. Australia's move to Asia has provided them with a more consistent level of competition, whilst allowing the minnows of the South Pacific to develop without having to face whippings from the Socceroos on a regular basis. The problem for Australia was always having to play teams that never really tested them - and then having to up their game, and play 5th place from South America to qualify - which was nigh on impossible without a truly competitive build-up to fortify their team.

    Never mind World Cups - NZ's experiences in recent years with the Confed Cup, means they know how to be mentally prepared for a tournament situation. Slovakia, as a fairly new nation in their first major tournament, may yet get caught out by an NZ team who are well versed in the 3-group-game scenario.

    The best thing about NZ - our 3-4-3 formation means this team won't die wondering. For the benefit of Wheater_bix, NZ are more than just a One Central Defender team. Our strikers are our real strength. They may only play lower league football in England (bar Smeltz who would do if he didn't like the family-friendly lifestyle and sunshine of the Gold Coast so much), but they always perform well when it comes to representing their country. Chris Wood from West Brom is a real talent. But he'll only be on the bench behind the more experienced Fallon, Killen and Smeltz.

    Ricki Herbert has built a good team, and win or lose, they'll do NZ proud. All the best to the All Whites!

  • Comment number 20.


    Well said. Good luck to NZ, I've always rated Nelsen, and if he wasn't so injury-prone he would no doubt have had a far more successful career.

  • Comment number 21.

    This thread is much more fun than the one about the USA/England match.

    Good luck to NZ, I still think it's funny that you guys have a different name for each national sporting team but I will be supporting you in your group. I have a very good friend that emigrated to NZ and has only good things to say about the country, I was hoping to see you beat the Aussies on the biggest stage in football but unfortunately that won't happen. I can't really see any other result but 3 defeats, but the best thing to remember is that only 32 teams get to play in this competition every 4 years so even 3 defeats would be 3 chances to play for the national side on a stage with billions of viewers, good luck.

  • Comment number 22.

    @dw07 & @QPArrgh New Zealand are playing Slovakia not Slovenia in the group stage. Slovenia take on another small nation who plays in white ;)

    The development of the All Whites has to go down to the success of the Wellington Phoenix with half the squad are Phoenix players.

  • Comment number 23.

    18. You say: "it seems crazy in these money rich times of football for a player to choose to leave the game early for a career". But Ceri had already HAD a decent football-playing career. It would have been MORE crazy, surely, to turn his back on medicine at the age of 30 and try to extend a football-playing career that was coming towards its natural conclusion.

    I see much of this blog has been hijacked, in a nice way, by discussions of Australia's and NZ's differing qualifying criteria. That's fine, but it's not something I can really comment on.

    19. Thanks for pointing out the strength among the NZ strikers. I am sure anyone who has seen Chris Wood play, and finds out he may only make the NZ bench, will appreciate there must be some reasonable quality in that department.

  • Comment number 24.

    I have almost never been a more proud Kiwi than when the All Whites qualified for the tournament and how they have performed since. They have portrayed themselves to be humble (they have to be, as they are ranked 71 in the world) and decent blokes - who are well aware that they are not in South Africa just for souvenirs of biltong and wine.

    Not to mention the fact they actually may be quite good - they beat Serbia the other day, after all.

    And to all those who say "they won't get any points" then it may be worth pointing out that Kiwis as a rule don't know the meaning of the terms "no-hoper" or "lost cause" - and I am sure our soccer team will be no different. And anyway, we can't leave it to the English to be the only fans to have wildly over-the-top expectations of their team.

    Having said that, a goal against anyone out of Paraguay, Slovakia or Italy (!) and I will be over the moon.

  • Comment number 25.

    Wow - he's only the third physician I've heard of who represented his country in football - the others being Sócrates Brasileiro Sampaio de Souza Vieira de Oliveira (or, more simply, Socrates) and Zimbabwe's Dr. Tauya Murehwa.

    I'm betting that New Zealand will score against someone in the World Cup, and hold someone else to a 0-0 draw. The All Whites will not be pointless.

    Thanks for this piece - it was really good to read.

    PS: A third of the WC squad is from two Wellington teams (Team & Phoenix) - does Kiwi football have an Old Firm problem?

    Does NZ also have the highest number of MLS players after the USA? Good pub quiz question there...

  • Comment number 26.

    I am very happy to see New Zealand in the world cup finals again after so long. I was in Sydney (1981) to see them beat Australia out of a place in the 1982 world cup and remember well Grant Turner's great headed goal.
    Grant (Petone) and I (Wainui) had many battles though the years previous and was thrilled to see him succeed.
    The Kiwis do have a good chance to do well and I expect them to give a good showing.
    Goodluck Allwhites !

  • Comment number 27.

    Interesting article, thanks - but coming from a UK broadcaster, I'd have expected this article to make at least some mention of New Zealand's first ever World Cup Finals game in 1982, given that their opponents happened to be Scotland!

    Anglocentric? Surely not!

  • Comment number 28.

    Good on ya, Kiwis. Ya might not be the strongest team on paper, but you're a good team who have worked really hard. You deserve to be there.
    Pay no attention to the likes of The Midland 20, his team'll garner no points either and he lives in a country where football is indoctrinated and it's players put on a pedestal and worshipped above all else. (not that it it improves their playing, go figure)

  • Comment number 29.

    'Ceri would order copies of Shoot! magazine, which arrived three weeks late, via surface mail.'

    Just a small point, I lived in New Zealand and Shoot! magazine use to arrive in NZ three MONTHS late, not three weeks late. Surface mail usually takes 10-12 weeks from the UK to NZ. This was the case throughout the seventies and eighties right up to 1995. Then from July 1995 Shoot! was sent by airmail.

  • Comment number 30.

    I think it's great such a team can play at the World Cup, it almost makes you feel that nearly any individual from any country registred at Fifa can rise to play at the finals - even those who actually are not full-time football players. It is the ultimate link to your ordinary football fan/player. I do hope they score a goal or two and have a good cup.

    That said, expecting NZ to get any points is naive. There is only so much you can do with a given set of players, no matter their passion or attitude. A point for them is indeed much like the semis to England.

  • Comment number 31.

    The article above was very interesting and illuminating - great to see life after football blooming - a lot of your knowledgable subscribers are getting excited about the world cup and mistaking Slovenia for Slovakia - a deadly mistake I am told in that part of the world - akin to getting Kiwis and Aussies mixed up - so for the record - NZ are playing Slovakia in pool play - as for Midland20's comment - Australia applied successfully and intelligently to FIFA to be put in the Asian group for qualifying - it makes sense geographically and in terms of getting better opposition is the way to go - NZ would also like to be part of Asian qualifying but it is not likely - they dont owe FIFA or Australia anything after getting past Asian 5th place getters Bahrain in a home and away series - NZ entry to the cup makes the tournament truely global.

  • Comment number 32.

    New zealand will not even get a goal never mind dreaming of a point, fair enough they have done well in the friendlies but when they play on the biggest stage they will be overawed

  • Comment number 33.

    This blog reminded me of Wynton Rufer - as Ceri Evans said, Rufer was a genuine talent and a top class striker. He was one of the best players in the German league in the late 1980s and early 1990s and as the quote from Beckenbauer suggests, Rufer could have got into the German national team and most national teams around the world. He wasn't a major name that everyone remembers, simply because he was a Kiwi.

  • Comment number 34.

    When NZ qualified, there was a distinct possibility that the potential Semi-Finalists for the next Rugby World Cup *could* have been drawn together for the Group stages for this Football World Cup: SA, NZ, Australia and France.

    I remember that England did not have it all their own way back in 1991 on the Summer tour. NZ kept them honest and England sneaked home narrow wins in both games.

    The Confederations Cup experience from last year should see them well and I expect they will grab draw versus Paraguay.

    Good Luck to Nelson, Killen and the rest!

  • Comment number 35.

    I remember Dr.Ceri playing days at the Manor. Yes, i remember those days standing in London Road Stand.
    Now, NZ's change of passing to the second round is very dificult. But saying that,this is footie.Anything could happen

  • Comment number 36.

    Worked with Ceri in London a few years ago, top bloke, spent a few years following Oxford in their glory days when I was studying there. As a Boro fan and Ceri as an Oxford player we had a mutual admiration for the under appreciated Robbie Mustoe.

    Good luck to the all whites, although realistically they have little chance of being washed in their colour.

  • Comment number 37.

    Interesting comments above.

    We may not be able to read too much into the friendly results but the match reports suggest a team that is on an upward curve. A point would be a great return for the team.

    I too remember Shoot arriving months late as it was shipped rather than airfreighted. Also remember watching the Big Match on Sunday afternoons a week late and during our summer. There was a market for this sort of thing amongst the £10 tourists and their offspring - they were easy to spot as their lounge lights were on at 3am when the FA Cup was on.

    New Zealand football is going through a sort of renaissance whereas the rugby team is suffering a bit form over exposure and an element of apathy. Not unlike 1981/2. There are indications that this may be part of a growing trend rather than something more localised ( as the post 1982 qualification ultimately turned out to have spawned ) More children take up soccer than rugby at school, this may result in better standards or at least more players travelling overseas to gain experience/cash. The crowds for the Phoenix have been brilliant - and have shown up the Hurricanes a bit. For the person wondering about whether there was an Old Firm in operation - not quite. Phoenix are the only NZ team in the Aussie League so they will attract the best players.

    As for qualification, the Aussies move to Asia also means ( I understand ) that they don't have to face the prospect of playing the fifth best nation in South America ( or a European team ), as has happened in the past. New Zealand have benefitted from this too as others have pointed out.

    Furthermore, if you think Israel in Europe is odd, we were a bit surprised in New Zealand when they were included in the Oceania Group before the 1986 World Cup. New Zealand is known as Godzone but it is a bit of a schlep from the Holy Land!

  • Comment number 38.

    NZ will lose all of their games. Strong forward line? As someone who watched Chris Killen play in Scotland the last three years, I can only say that if he is their main striker then they will need divine intervention because their luck has clearly run out!

    Australia's move to the Asian qualification group should not have gone ahead. It weakened the Oceania group too much and significantly increased the chances of a team like this one to take part in the WC.

  • Comment number 39.

    "It weakened the Oceania group too much and significantly increased the chances of a team like this one to take part in the WC."

    Meaning what? That they don't deserve to be there?

  • Comment number 40.

    I remember Dr Ceri Evans father Gwyn playing for the Palace probably in the early '60s, a big strong centre half he was. Not sure, but he might have played for Wales.
    NZ might do OK, they have a natural striker in Shane Smeltz and Leo Bertos is a talented player. Hope Bertos has recovered from the Australian battering he received in a warm up game, red card type tackles from Vince Grella (v bad tackle) and Tim Cahill (not as bad but looked highly spectacular). Australians never play friendlies as England have found out in the past. Another useful player they have is Brown who also knows where the goal is, similar to Tim Cahill but not quite the same class obviously.
    Anyway, best of luck to Australia and New Zealand over the next couple of weeks.

  • Comment number 41.

    #25 buymespresso: There is no "Old Firm" problem in NZ, the best team in the country Wellington Phoenix takes part in the Australian A-League along with all the top Aussie teams. So NZ gets to benefit from Australia's move to the Asian federation in this respect too.

  • Comment number 42.

    Qualifiers from Asia-Oceania pools are catching up with the big teams from the other continents. Seasoned South Korea and Japan have tasted success in their first encounters. NZ and North Korea too may create a some surprises. Best wishes to their footballers and fans. Interesting information on the All Whites. Thanks.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 43.

    I must admit i'm enjoying trawling through all the comments on this article from people stating emphatically that NZ will get no points and/or no goals - at the present time we have the same number of points as England, and have scored more goals! :)


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