New Zealand – Confederations Cup Group A

Among all the teams which are getting ready to take part in the Confederation Cup, New Zealand can be considered as the weakest one for more than one reason. To begin with, it has a major lack of the domestic league or club level competitions which doesn’t allow football to grow and develop or improve in New Zealand. Moreover, they have had few major international exposures unlike the teams from Europe or Latin America or even Asia and Africa. Being a part of Oceania Football Confederation, they have been always involved in competitions with Australia but the later has now joined the Asian Football Federation leaving New Zealand devoid of any chance for experiencing any form of competition.

The New Zealand team that is going to take the field in the upcoming Confederation Cup will primarily comprise of players selected among goalkeepers Glen Moss, Mark Paston and Jacob Spoonley, the defenders Ryan Nelsen, Andrew Boyens, Tony Lochhead, David Mulligan, Steven Old, James Pritchett, Aaron Scott and Ben Sigmund, midfielders Tim Brown, Jeff Campbell, Jeremy Christie, Simon Elliott, Chris James, Allan Pearce and Cole Peverley along with Jeremy Brockie, Costa Barbarouses, Kris Bright, Greg Draper, Chris Killen, Shane Smeltz and Jarrod Smith playing in the forward position. Ricki Herbert is the one who has been shouldering the responsibility of coaching the team. While most of the players have hardly played any major international game before, the only player who can still leave a mark in the game is their midfielder Simon Elliott who at 34 years of age with 50 international appearances and 6 shots in the net represents the maximum experience in the squad. Elliot has previously played in a number of international clubs including LA Galaxy in USA.

It is not really easy for a game like soccer to establish its popularity in a country like New Zealand where other sports like cricket and rugby get the primary focus from media as well as the attention and enthusiasm of the general mass. As for the team’s international exposure, the one worth mentioning is their participation in the 1982 FIFA World Cup held in Spain which they played but failed to make it to the second round losing all the games in Round one. They have also played two installments of the Confederation Cup in 1999 in Mexico and in 2003 in France but had to face the same results as in the World cup, failing to get past the first round barrier on both occasions. However, their only success story generates from the OFC Nations Cup in which they have appeared a total number of eight times including the first edition in 1973, which New Zealand finished as champions. They have subsequently managed to win three more times in the years 1998, 2002 and 2008, the later making them the defending champions. This fact has however created a certain amount of stir among the sports enthusiasts in the country as well as in the other parts of the world.

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