I think I am still too tired, both mentally and physically to give a really good impression of my thoughts about this but I need to comment, to get out of my head and into the blogoverse my thoughts about the other night, no matter how scattered and disjointed.
To summarise: New Zealand, our football team, ranked 78th in the world, held Italy, the World Champions, currently ranked 4th, to a one-all draw in a must win World Cup group game, after leading in the 7th minute and almost sneaking the win with only their third shot of the night in the 83rd minute.
When Andy Barron came on I had an even bigger upswelling of pride. Barron is an amateur footballer from my local National Football Championship Franchise Team Wellington- A local boy made good footing it with the overpaid Italian ponces on the world stage.
I also had to chuckle a little because when the All Whites were substitued in the second half they dawdled and stalled, in direct violation of my complaint in a previous post except this time I loved the fact that our lads' tactics ate up the clock. At one point Vicelich, I think, even shook the ref's hand!
I think the fact that Italy had to resort to the tried and true method acting to con the ref speaks volumes for the resistance that they met, and the kiwi lads will be a little bit wiser for it. It shows how far public expectation has come that we are arguing over a dubious penalty call which robbed us of three points against Italy rather than counting our blessings that the post, Paston and the clock saved us from the full onslaught of Italian wrath. So New Zealand were outplayed, out shot, out cornered, but the history books will now have a little D for draw next to that game, and New Zealand will be more than a curious little footnote in the history of the world Cup.
When you see some of the limp and uninspired efforts put in by some of the more fancied teams (England and France, I'm pointing my finger at you) the All Whites must seem like a breath of fresh air in a fairly stale tournament. They are visibly enjoying the moment, playing with passion and pride. Long may it last.
I think Russell over at No Punts Intended was already starting his Italian research ahead of the game- he is stuck with us for at least one more game. I sent him a reaction but he has yet to post it. While we await Paraguay, here are some highlights, courtesy of Russian website.