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Happy Leap Day!

New Zealand 2, Jamaica 3
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland, February 29 2012

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February 29th only comes around once every four years. This often seems more frequent than quality international football coming to Auckland. This week however it was well worth the wait – we got a cracker! It was a very interesting and even match up. The contrasting football cultures were what made my night. The smooth, flowing, almost Brazilian flair of the Jamaicans versus the traditional English slugfest approach of New Zealand. And if it seems like I worded that as though I prefer the former over the latter, I actually don’t necessarily. I find that when those two raisons d’etre come up against each other, they seem to complement each other quite nicely and make for a fascinating game of ‘let’s see what works best tonight’.

This matchup also served as an interesting preview to coming attractions. For New Zealand’s upcoming World Cup qualification campaign, the Oceania number one will play off against the fourth best CONCACAF side for the last place in Brazil 2014, So it may well be Jamaica or at least a team like it who New Zealand will end up facing, should we get through Oceania intact. The good news from this game is I doubt many folks left Mount Smart Stadium thinking ‘come back Asia, all is forgiven’. There are some areas we have to improve on if we want to qualify for Brazil. There is a gap in quality. But it’s not a yawning chasm.

A visitor from the planet Tharg would never have guessed that the FIFA rankings had Jamaica 70 places higher than New Zealand, even if we all know how accurate and useful those rankings are. I mean, look at them. Where does one start? How about, just to pluck one example from thin air, completely at random, no bias whatsoever, Italy is incredibly undervalued and should be at least number 3. Don’t laugh, it’s true. Oh shuddup. Ok, well, instead look at Australia then! I rest my case and your apology is accepted. If they are 22 in the world at football then I’m 22 in the world at line dancing.

Although it’s tempting it is to spend a week writing cheap shots about the FIFA rankings (and Australia), it’s a bit too easy for my liking and this post has to finish somewhere. So suffice it to end by saying a big thank you to New Zealand Football for making the game happen and for continuing to persevere with football in Auckland. As simple eye candy goes, it was a great success. Lots of end to end stuff and plenty of chances created by both sides. For non-lovers of football in the audience, it should have served as a fine advertisement for the game, which is at least partly what it needed to be given (with the exception of the recent Phoenix game at Eden Park) the miserable recent history of big football games in Auckland being unmitigated disasters.

I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it – we’re not worthy!

Categories: All Whites

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots football enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent club on earth - A.S. Roma. More info (including e-mail address) can be found here:

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