Time zones suck. For the next month many of us are going to be grumpy and sleep deprived, and those bloody plastic horns definitely don't help. Okay, blow it once or twice when a goal has been scored - no problem. But why on earth are they being blown for the whole bloody game? They're doing my head in. I watched as many football matches as I could, pretty much every single day, during the last Cup in Germany, and the Cup before in South Korea and Japan. Those were awesome tournaments - well run, well attended, well organised; the only thing wrong with them was that NZ wasn't there. Now, however, we return to the world stage, and what do we have to put up with? THAT goal by Winston Reid will go down in history, and every time we watch it we will have to endure those bloody vuvuzelas. So thanks for ruining a magical night and a great tournament, South Africa. That's the last time I ever support your hosting another international tournament. I'm boycotting all matches not featuring NZ until the semi-finals - if another billion people did the same, I'm sure the sponsors would lean on FIFA and we'd see some action quick smart.
On the plus side, NZ 1-1 Slovakia. We're ranked, what, 88th or something in the world? Slovakia's only about 50 places higher than us. But this campaign has been about going above and beyond: we played amazingly well to beat Bahrain and qualify; we had a blinder against Australia which we lost at the last minute (and we should have been playing 9 men rather than 11 for much of the game); we beat Serbia, ranked in the top 20 in the world, just a few weeks ago; and we came out all guns blazing last night. Judging by the Facebook traffic I'd say the better part of a million people must have been watching that game in the early hours of this morning. To be honest, in think the last 20 minutes of the first half and first 30 of the second were pretty much all Slovakia - their guys were just running rings around ours, and we were lucky to survive with only one goal being scored against us. Paston pulled off some good saves and there was some great defence by Reid, Lochhead, and Nelson. I got the feeling that Elliot, at 36, has definitely seen better days and was having difficulty controlling the ball - mind you, who hasn't, Robert Gates? Smeltz didn't really get out of first gear until the second half and only had two decent attempts on goal, and our entire strategy seemed to be kick the ball high and hope that Killen can connect his head to it. 3 minutes into injury time and it seemed like it was all over, until Smeltz punted the ball with pinpoint accuracy and Reid - wtf was the central defender doing in front of goal??? - guided the ball in with a flick of the neck and a tap of the forehead. Magic. I felt a little sorry for Slovakia, denied their first ever win in their first ever World Cup match, but only a smidgen. A draw's as good as a win. Our first point from a World Cup match and, would you believe it, we are now in a tie for first place in our pool. Admittedly, a four-way tie between all four teams in the pool, courtesy of an Italy-Paraguay 1-1 draw the previous night, but still, we'll take what we can get. Realistically Italy will probably teach us how to play but the Paraguayan match is shaping up to be our sudden death, do or die, one shot for glory, elimination game. Bring it on.
Australia longs to forget their 4-0 drubbing by Germany, claiming NZ as their own! "Australasia 1 - Slovakia 1" - wtf? :
The world press loves us, apparently:
Winston Reid sets the World Cup alight!:
BBC straight to the point:
Even the NYTimes has a story about us! :
All Whites make history: