The Long & Winding Road

I’m having a rare night off tonight, to refresh my frazzled batteries. So, I’m giving this place over the good people at Sportsfreak for their analysis of the current travails of the New Zealand football team. They could be set to make the World Cup Finals for the first time in nearly three decades. On the other side of the world from Europe, twelve hours before a night of European Championship qualification (or otherwise), New Zealand virtually guaranteed themselves passage through to the next round of qualification for the 2010 FIFA World Cup by knocking off fellow regional heavyweights Vanuatu. That’s right – the much maligned Oceania confederation is a good two years ahead of the rest of the world. Oceania has always been the ugly kid sister of the FIFA family. So much so that our dear friends over the other side of the Tasman Sea decided that it was way too lowly for them, and felt the Sheilaroos were best served by taking their toys and playing with their new friends in Asia. So now the ugly kid sister is even smaller. But it has always been a difficult group from which to qualify, largely because there is no continuity of matches of a similar standard. New Zealand have only qualified for the World Cup once before (in 1982), and in doing so set the world record...

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