By Patrick Barnes
It has been a memorable year for New Zealand Football both on and off the pitch, and not for the right reasons. From playing lowlights like the All Whites having to take PNG to penalties in the Nations Cup, the Ferns not getting out of the group Rio Olympics to the botched transfers, there have been plenty of moments to look back on with disdain. We reflect on 20 of the worst moments from 2016 (in no particular order) as we celebrate the shambles of New Zealand Football at home and on the international stage.
1. All Whites only win Nations Cup in penalty shootout
All Whites goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic was required to be the hero in Papua New Guinea as he saved two penalties in the shootout for the OFC Nations Cup title. The All Whites couldn’t score a goal against Papua New Guinea in the final, despite being heavy favourites.
The All Whites were lucky that the PNG players weren’t very good at taking penalties, otherwise they would have missed out on the Confederations Cup for the second year in a row.
The All Whites failed to score yet again in a World Cup qualifier against New Caledonia, despite having numerous chances in the match.
2. Ferns at the Rio Olympics
The Football Ferns went to the Rio Olympics with high hopes of upsetting two of the world’s best teams in USA and France to get out of their group but they came up short. Despite a lucky 1-0 win over Colombia, the Ferns failed to pick up results needed to make it out of the group, and had their Government funding slashed as a result.
3. Alex Jones botched transfer saga
With the Wellington Phoenix needing someone to spark things in the final third to rescue their A-League campaign, they signed up and coming British youngster Alex Jones. Despite getting a working visa for Jones fast tracked, as well as approval for the transfer from FFA and the English FA, the transfer was not processed on time.
The culprit? An NZF staffer who had gone on holiday and wasn’t available to click the required button in the FIFA transfer system.
The transfer fell over and Jones had to fly back to the UK without playing a minute.
4. New Zealand Football celebrate 125th anniversary
Celebrations to mark the 125th Anniversary of New Zealand Football were held at Auckland’s Heritage Hotel and featured the chance for old white men to reflect on the lack of diversity in New Zealand Football.
5. Andy Martin proves he doesn’t understand football
In a halftime interview, NZF CEO Andy Martin championed the level of “rivalism” in the NZ national league, ignoring the fact that rivalism isn’t even a word. Not content with this, he then claimed there is a level of “tribalism” in the league in a seperate interview.
6. NZF unable to schedule international fixtures
With the noteable exception of the games against Mexico and the US, there was a severe lack of friendly matches for our mens national team. In fact, there were exactly zero international fixtures played this year before the OFC Nations Cup was played. Instead, the All Whites played against third tier club sides from Australia.
7. New Zealand Football leave Team Wellington off their highlights list
New Zealand Football didn’t initially consider Team Wellington winning the National League to be a highlight of their year, even though some kid getting to play social indoor fooball overseas because of some YouTube video was good enough to make the list.
8. NZF paid to fly lawyer over to New Caledonia
NZF have so little confidence in the competency of their management team that they flew their lawyer over to the World Cup Qualifier in New Caledonia in case of any eligibility concerns that required immediate lawyer input.
9. Peter Taylor hired as All Whites Assistant Coach
And he’s not even coming over to New Zealand. Enough said.
10. Anthony Hudson keeps updating his own Wikipedia page
Not content with others adding his “achievements” to Wikipedia, there’s evidence that Anthony Hudson has edited his own Wikipedia page on multiple occasions this year.
11. Youth and Women’s national leagues still only a single round
Everyone knows that playing football at the highest level is the best way to develop a player. Therefore it makes no sense that the NYL and NWL are only a single round robin in length. This means that NYL sides only play 9 games before their season is over, whereas NWL play just a paltry 6 games.
Despite our national women’s team being miles better than the men’s team in global football, our NWL teams playing one third of the number of matches of the men’s team is mindblowing.
12. Andy Martin goes on NZF funded jaunt to New Caledonia
Martin flew over to NC with the playing squad, and then stayed on for multiple days after the rest of the delegation flew back to NZ. There on official business? Perhaps, but that would have ended when the squad flew out.
13. Rory Fallon is still an All White
Still riding on the coattails of *that* goal that he scored over 7 years ago, Rory Fallon is somehow still in the All Whites squad.
14. NZF employees try to silence online dissent
After a string of poor performances at the Nations Cup, there was some deservingly negative comments about the All Whites on social media. However, NZF employees rang up a member of the online community who had retweeted a particuliary scathing tweet, demanding to know why they shared a comment that paints the All Whites in a negative light.
The only problem? The person they rang up was neither an employee of NZF or any of its federations.
15. Anthony Hudson claiming NZ dominated the Nations Cup
If Hudson didn’t already have problems with the public perception of him, he definitely did when he tried to claim that the All Whites dominated at the Nations Cup.
16. NZF forgot to get the Stirling Sports Prem trophy to the season launch
When you launch your flagship competition to the media, you should probably have the trophy present for photo oppourtunities.
NZF expected Team Wellington’s representative to bring it with him to the season launch. The only issue is that they forgot to ask for it to be brought up.
17. WeeNix unable to qualify for semi-finals
With eight teams within two points of the playoffs spots of the Stirling Sports Prem, it’s shaping up to be an incredibly exciting finish to the season. However, for some bizarre reason, the Wellington Phoenix U20’s aren’t allowed to qualify for the semifinals. So much for a level playing field.
18. NZF retweeting everything on Twitter
NZF don’t quite understand how to use Twitter. After not tweeting anything on the first round of the Chatham Cup until the scores were confirmed late on the Sunday night of the weekend, they’ve moved to retweeting literally everything tweeted by every single club in the country. If Twitter users wanted to see all those tweets, they’d follow those accounts themselves.
19. Not screwing up enough times for this list to get to 20
[Patrick Barnes is a prominent member of the Wellington Phoenix fan group Yellow Fever. You can follow him on Twitter (and you really should) via the handle @patrick478 or listen to his views on the ‘Phoenix City’ podcast.]
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: http://in-the-back-of-the.net/about/