New Zealand National Football: The All Whites

In contrast to the national rugby union team, the New Zealand national football team is nicknamed the “All Whites”. The team is a member of the Oceania Football Confederation, which has 14 current member nations including New Zealand, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga. Australia was a founding member, but left in 2006 to become a member of the Asian Football Confederation.

Israel_v_New_Zealand_-_Ramat_Gan,_1989_-_Ronny_RosenthalAmong the All Whites’ accomplishments are five victories in the OFC Nations Cup tournament, including the inaugural event in 1973. Among those five tournaments were two victories over Australia in 1998 and 2002. This tournament serves as a qualifying competition for inclusion in the FIFA World Cup, which New Zealand has appeared in twice.

In 1982, New Zealand reached the World Cup in Spain by coming top and second in two round-robin qualifiers. For a team made up mostly of amateurs, this was a huge achievement. The All Whites exited this World Cup after being defeated by Scotland, The Soviet Union and Brazil.

New Zealand also qualified for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa when it defeated Bahrain 1-0 in a 2-legged playoff. Despite achieving draws against Slovenia, Italy and Paraguay, the team went out of the competition, but did have the satisfaction of being the only undefeated side of the tournament.

Winning the OFC Nations Cup enabled New Zealand to play in the FIFA Confederations Cup in 1999, 2003, and 2009. In this event, the winners of six regional tournaments including the UEFA European Championship automatically qualify. Those teams are joined by the current FIFA World Cup holders and the host nation. This tournament has exposed New Zealand to some high-class opposition.

Many of New Zealand’s best international players play abroad, since the football scene in New Zealand itself is mostly amateur and semi-professional. Players such as Chris Wood, Sam Brotherton and Tommy Smith all play for top English sides. Other players are based as far afield as America, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, The Netherlands, and South Africa, so the squad has plenty of international experience and is not short of ambition.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *