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All Whites National Heroes

(PR.co.nz) The All Whites are coming home as national heroes, after the plucky New Zealand side overcame impossible odds to emerge as the toast of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

New Zealand’s national football team has been called the “feelgood hit of the summer” and “standard bearers for smaller nations” by the world’s media.

The All Whites, who are only at the FIFA World Cup for the second time in the tournament’s history, are leaving as underdog champions after an undefeated three-draw run. The team drew 0-0 with Paraguay – ranked 47 positions above them, after previously drawing 1-1 against Italy, 73 above them in the world.

New Zealand Football chairman Frank van Hattum thanked Kiwis for getting behind the All Whites.

“This is a wonderful example of the way New Zealanders get behind their own and how the fighting Kiwi spirit rises to the occasion.”

Little team that could
The All Whites have captured hearts all around the globe with their humble perseverance.

To provide an idea of how far the team has risen, the All Whites were considered rank outsiders at the beginning of the tournament – with odds of 2000-1 to win the World Cup.

The team can now leave the FIFA World Cup with their heads held high – having been held undefeated against some of the best teams in the competition.

All Whites captain Ryan Nelsen, who bravely played on despite a virulent bout of stomach flu, said although the team was disappointed at not making it out of the pool stage, many of this year’s winning squad will still be around for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

“It’s a really good platform. I hope you guys put a bit of pressure on the team to win games and keep up the high standards…you want the bar set really high so we can start succeeding on the world stage,” Nelsen told stuff.co.nz

Gallant All Whites
The world’s media are lauding the All Whites, despite the end of their dream run.

“It was a gallant exit by New Zealand, who finished unbeaten after three draws in a group where they were expected to be cannon fodder for the other three contenders, but ended up finishing above the Italians,” said Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald.

The USA Today said All Whites coach Ricki Herbert, the lowest-paid coach in the competition, “has every reason to be proud of his team”. America’s biggest sports broadcaster, ESPN, also patted the team on the back after the Paraguay game.

“Another resolute performance by a nation playing at only their second World Cup – the first coming in 1982 when they lost all three matches and conceded 12 goals.”

Playing against the odds
New Zealand had a base of only 25 professional football players to draw on from a player base of under 200,000 for the FIFA World Cup.

Italy, the defending champions of the tournament and who drew 1-1 with the All Whites – is a country of 4.9 million footballers who can call on the services of any of its 3541 professional players.

The Italian World Cup side is valued at more than $300 million on the international transfer market whereas the All Whites have an estimated worth of about $20 million.

The All Whites exited the competition above Italy, who lost their final game against Slovakia. New Zealand also drew 1-1 against Slovakia, their first competitor in the pool stage.

Media Release 25 June 2010 from newzealand.com

 



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