Pundits and commentators have reacted well to the All Whites’ 2-1 win against Curaçao, the national team’s first international in almost 700 days.
New Zealand took control of the game at Arad’s Al Muharraq Stadium in Bahrain with first-half goals from Bill Tuiloma (9’) and Chris Wood (33’).
Despite a second-half fightback from Curaçao, which produced a goal through Rangelo Janga (71’), the All Whites deserved their win.
Photo: The New Zealanders celebrate Tuiloma’s goal from a long-range free-kick.
- The win was just the ninth by New Zealand against a team outside Oceania in the past 15 years.
- New Zealand, ranked 121st in the world by FIFA, overcame a side ranked 79th.
- The match was played in 32-degree heat, testing the fitness of players and their ability to concentrate.
- The All Whites fielded four debutants in right-back Niko Kirwan (26), central midfield pair Marko Staminec (19) and Matthew Garbett (19), and substitute defender Kelvin Kalua (22).
- Tuiloma’s goal was his first at full international level, and was scored in his 27th game for the All Whites. The goal also means Tuiloma (26) now has the distinction of having scored for New Zealand at U-17, U-20 and U-23 levels.
- Wood’s goal, his 25th for New Zealand, means the Burnley striker is now outright second as the All Whites’ all-time leading scorer, closing in on Vaughan Coveny’s 28.
- The starting line-up did not contain any players based in New Zealand – they came from clubs in Denmark (3), Italy (2), Belgium, Israel, United States, Norway, Germany and the United Kingdom.
New Zealand coach Danny Hay (in interview with Stuff’s Andrew Voerman): “It’s actually quite nice that we’ve come off a little bit disappointed.
“We felt like we should have killed the game off much earlier in the second half.
“But there will be some good lessons for the young players from the fact that we had to grind it out to get the result in the end.”
Newsbub’s Alex Powell: “Make no mistake, this has been a brilliant victory for the All Whites.
“Danny Hay’s not been able to pick some of his best players, stuck in Australia and New Zealand, and have held on to beat a side ranked more than 40 places above them in the world rankings.”
Sky Sport’s Andrew Dewhurst: “They deserved the win. An impressive performance by a young New Zealand team.”
NZME’s football writer Michael Burgess: “The match ticked a lot of boxes; there was flair and finesse, then fight, from a youthful All Whites team.”
Stuff football writer Phillip Rollo: “The All Whites were the dominant team, over the first 45 minutes in particular, with Sarpreet Singh causing plenty of problems with his slick passing game and debutant Marko Stamenic prominent as well.
“They had to manage the game a bit more defensively once Curaçao pulled one back but held on to secure a very rare win on the international stage.
“I thought Stefan Marinovic was really strong in the New Zealand goal.”
Former All White Fred de Jong: “I think they deserved to win. They were the better side in the first half and in parts of the second half, they pressed high up the pitch and then got good use of the ball when they got it. Two great goals.”
GK Stefan Marinovic (25 Caps) Hapoel Nof HaGalil, Israel
LB Liberato Cacace (3 Caps) Sint-Truidense VV, Belgium
RB Niko Kirwan (0 Caps) Padova, Italy
CB Nando Pijnaker (1 Cap) FC Helsingør (loan from Rio Ave FC), Denmark
CB Bill Tuiloma (26 Caps) Portland Timbers, USA
DM Joe Bell (2 Caps) Viking FK, Norway
CM Matthew Garbett (0 Caps) Torino, Italy
CM Marko Stamenic (0 Caps) HB Køge (on loan from FC Copenhagen), Denmark
AM Sarpreet Singh (6 Caps) SSV Jahn Regensburg (loan from FC Bayern Münich), Germany
FW Callum McCowatt (1 Cap) FC Helsingør, Denmark
FW Chris Wood (57 Caps) Burnley FC, England