Be careful you All Whites.
If you keep this current run of form up you just may raise the expectations of a nation. As it is, there is already an inexhaustible safari of chest thumping nationalistic pride overwhelming the nation.
First you do what you patently were not meant to do in qualifying for the World Cup. Then when you arrive, you stare madness down and talk yourselves up by claiming you can gain points at a World Cup. The rest of the world sniggered, preferring to think a tad more rationally, believing you were there to make up the numbers.
What’s more, you had three quarters of New Zealand believing all this gibberish of accruing points. Hell, you lot even had the general populous believing you could escape pool play and progress to the second round.
Okay, so you got a draw against Slovakia and gained New Zealand’s first ever point at a world cup. You rejoiced, we rejoiced, even our neighbours across the ditch were giving New Zealand some credit. It was a stupendous effort. As a nation, we were all so proud of you. Our collective bosom was swelling to bursting point. If you didn’t gain another point, no one was going to hang you for it. Sure, we’d all be a bit disappointed. Like you would, I guess. But our heads would stay high with pride; there would be no sagging in morale.
We’re not a Soccer nation, so we would all accept that you would lose the remaining two matches in your pool. But, what’s that we hear you say after drawing with Slovakia, you think you can draw- even win- against Italy. We could all understand this coming from some of the more fanatical fans. After all, you had just given your Country one of its more memorable fist pumping moments. But, surely, it was just a case of a few delusional souls getting carried away?
So some of us thought so, anyway. Until, that is, you turn up on Sunday afternoon and faced off against the reigning champions, the all mighty Azzurri. A cake walk for Italy, surely. A walk in the park, that is, until the eighth minute when Shane Smeltz scored the first goal of the match. It wasn’t meant to happen like that you know. But then, it seems you lot don’t just talk the talk. You walk the walk, as well.
Although it was early on in the game, we were all hoping you could go on with the job and get New Zealand’s first ever win at a world cup. But, deep down no one really thought it was going to happen, did they? It was only a matter of time before Italy would crank up that mighty footballing machine of theirs and knock in a few effortless goals.
It didn’t happen though, well, accept for that one penalty goal they scored. We all claimed they had cheated ( they did), and you felt you should have won. But, let’s be fair, the goal Smeltz scored was from an offside play too. Admittedly you didn’t deliberately cheat, unlike the Italians who admire gravity way too much and give it far more credit than it deserves.
In the end, a 1-1 draw was a fair result. Again you did us, and more importantly, yourselves proud.
Now, I suppose you lot are going to claim you can go out and beat Paraguay on Thursday. Thus, gaining entrance into the second round. Gee, you probably will even claim that you can qualify top of your group which would give you a second round match-up against either Japan or Denmark. Much better than playing Holland, that's for sure.
So go on, say it, you believe that you can do what no one thought you could do: advance to the second round. Because we are all starting to sense something truly special is about to happen.
Qualify top and I bet you will rate yourselves a massive chance in reaching the quarterfinals.