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After The Celebrations, Reality Sets In For All Whites

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Adrian Musolino
Adrian Musolino
Ben Sigmund. Pic: NZPA

As the majority of New Zealand All Whites return to club action in the A-League this weekend following their remarkable World Cup qualification, the reality of what confronts them in South Africa next year is starting to dawn.  

The All Whites will undoubtedly be labelled as one of the minnows in South Africa, alongside the likes of Honduras, Slovakia and North Korea. Their inability to score a goal at this year’s Confederations Cup in South Africa would have done little to concern its competitors.  

It’s going to be a challenge for the All Whites; hamstrung by the lack of competitive matches they have played during the qualification process, it remains to be seen how the fact that so many of its players will be ending their season three months before the World Cup will impact the team come the finals in South Africa.  

While the Wellington Phoenix’s ability to play in the Australian A-League has undoubtedly helped raise the standard of New Zealand football and made qualification possible, the issue is the A-League ends in March, three months before the World Cup.  

If the Wellington Phoenix doesn’t make the finals series, that break will be even longer.  

Australian Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek has stated this fact will count against the Australian A-League based players hoping to get a ticket to South Africa.  

While those players consider a loan out to another league in the January transfer window, it’s unlikely many of the A-League All Whites will do likewise, particularly considering so many are grouped together at the Phoenix under Ricki Herbert. 

There has been talk of a New Zealand A-team being formed post-A-League to keep the core group of the national team together, preparing for South Africa.  

But will this extra time in camp be more beneficial than playing regularly and competitive matches? 

It’s one of the question marks that hang over the All Whites heading into the World Cup. 

But, at the end of the day, it’s a welcome problem – a sign of the growing maturity of New Zealand football thanks to World Cup qualification.  


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