FIFA World Cup 2010: New Zealand's Draw With Italy Shows What Cup Is All About
The New Zealand football team is ranked 78 in the world. Their nation doesn't have a professional football league. They have a full time bank employee on their team.
Italy are ranked five in the world. They have one of the biggest football league's in the world. Their players are multi millionaires who play football every day.
None of this suggests that Italy and New Zealand would fight it out on the football field to a 1-1 draw.
Yet that's what happened. A nation with a population of 4.3 million in which football is very much the third sport, drew with a nation of 60 million where football is the main sport.
This is exactly what I want to see in a World Cup. I want every game to be contested throughout. I want the smallest teams to do their utmost to deny the big guns. I want excitement.
This 1-1 draw provided all of the above. There were plenty of chances for both sides. This was by no means a match where one team bombarded the other for 90 minutes without a reply.
Indeed, New Zealand almost went ahead at the death after Wood saw a shot drift just wide.
I'm not going to pretend that this was the perfect match. Italy was wasteful, New Zealand's goal was offside, and Italy were lucky to get their penalty.
However, this match, while not the purest display of footballing genius, kept me glued to the screen for 90 minutes.
This match was interesting, something that can't be said for the majority of the games we've seen so far.
Too often, the World Cup is about the big teams, but today New Zealand has provided a brilliant advert for football. Not just for the rest of the less fancied teams, but also for New Zealand, a country where football receives less attention than it should.
This remarkable draw gives New Zealand as many points as England, the USA and Italy. It also means they have more points than France. They are very much in contention to qualify.
Here's hoping New Zealand makes it to the next round.
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