“It’s not over. It’s a long way from over”
– James Spithill
Thud. That was the sound of New Zealand football fans falling back down to terra firma after the heroics of South Africa three years ago.
I didn’t live every moment with the boys. I couldn’t watch it live – I had to be at work so wasn’t able to hang on every pass like my life depended on it, as I know many reading this will have. Instead, I have just finished watching it off of My Sky, having already known the result as the first ball was kicked. Which meant my expectations were non-existent and I was able to observe proceedings from a detached perspective. Following careful thought, here’s my considered analysis:
They were better than us. A lot better. It’s as simple as that, really.
Smarter football brains than me who know a lot more about tactics than I do have already dissected it and concluded that parking the bus was the wrong move. Usually I agree when two sides are relatively even, the best form of defence is attack. But when you are playing a vastly superior side, which they were, surely had we tried to attack we would have exposed our weak defence even more and ended up conceding more?
I do agree that some of the selections were difficult to come to grips with. More those left on the bench for me than those left out of the squad. When you’ve got people who play for clubs like Stuttgart and Marseille, wouldn’t you tend to start them? But the problem wasn’t really in the positions that could have been occupied by young guns, rather it was reasonably basic defensive lapses that seemed to cost us. The goals were soft, and while you can argue that other central defenders could have been selected, there really weren’t exactly any massive quality upgrades sitting around on their backsides in Godzone watching the game on TV. We simply missed Winston Reid terribly, and Ryan Nelsen for that matter.
You can’t play Mexico and expect the same result as was achieved against Bahrain as of right. Sure, you might get it if they play poorly but we really needed them to play poorly, and they didn’t. We are to Mexico, in terms of skill level, what Tahiti are to us. We can win on our day, but this obviously wasn’t our day. Their coach only picking domestic players and leaving his poorly performing European stars in Europe turned out to be a very good move. Most of the players today know each other, have played together week-in, week-out, and experienced a lot of success together at their club. And many a time a successful Mexican domestic club is going to be better than a lot of international sides ranked outside the top 50 in the world.
This should not dampen spirits too much though. Imagine what it will be like if we win 4-0 in Wellington. Bugger the America’s Cup, this would be the greatest upset in the history of the world! If it happens, don’t you want to be able to say you knew it all along? And how would you feel if you could have been there, but you missed it?
If you think I’m taking my Polyannaitis to the point of the ridiculous, what was the score the last time Mexico played on New Zealand soil?
I’ll be there in the stadium in Wellington next week, Jetstar willing. This does not really make me a hero of any sort – my tickets are non-refundable. But Regardless of that, or anything else, I am still really, really, really looking forward to it.
Categories: All Whites
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: https://in-the-back-of-the.net/about/