Fred de Jong: All Whites need new mantra for success in Brazil

2 comments

As the eyes of the footballing world move away from South Africa and begin to focus on Brazil in four years' time, we can reflect on a World Cup that certainly exceeded many sceptics' expectations.

Off the field there were some organisational issues around transportation and striking security guards, however these were minor compared with the chaos that had been predicted by many before the tournament. Certainly the pride of being host and the willingness of the army of volunteers outshone any disruptions.

On the field it took a while for the tournament to fire as too many teams took the approach of not losing rather than going for all three points on offer. Thankfully, this changed during the latter group games and there were some great matches, excellent football and compelling drama.

So Spain are crowned worthy champions. After a shaky start they found their rhythm and in the end were unstoppable. The final was a real disappointment with Holland trying to nullify the Spanish midfield, thus choking any life out of the game.

Closer to home, New Zealand enjoyed an exceptional World Cup. Ricki Herbert and his squad have lifted the bar of expectation for future All White teams.

Looking ahead, what needs to happen for New Zealand is to be in a position to win games at this level rather than just "not lose".

Football in New Zealand needs a new mantra. The words "keep the ball" need to pervade all areas of football in this country. It is not by coincidence that the two teams that best maintain possession made it to the World Cup final.

The team with the ball dictates the game. The team without it chases.

To maintain possession is difficult. It requires movement, awareness and technique. The player on the ball needs passing options at all times. This requires his teammates to continually move into positions and make themselves available to receive a pass. This is physically and mentally very demanding. It also requires a very high level of skill to control and pass the ball efficiently and accurately.

This is where New Zealand players are most deficient. Even our best are technically weak compared with other players at the World Cup.

New Zealand's development programmes must focus on this area in the future if we are to progress to being a team that can control a match, dominate the opposition and run out winners.

I saw 20 games live in South Africa. The athleticism, pace and skills of the players seen live are incredible and television does not do this justice. The best games were Argentina v Mexico, Brazil v Holland and Germany v Argentina.

Best moment
As match commissioner, in the tunnel with the two teams, South Africa and Mexico, before the opening match. Real tension and a moving experience.

Most surprising team
Uruguay - a country of three million brought a refreshing attacking approach to all their games. This was lost in the controversy around Suarez's handball against Ghana.

Best players
Wesley Schneider, Andreas Iniesta, Lionel Messi - players who can create magic in the blink of an eye.

Best stadium
Nelspruit stadium - a perfect 40,000-seat stadium with character. Giraffe stanchions and zebra seating. Green Point stadium in Cape Town - state of the art.

(If only New Zealand had a modern, purpose-built football stadium. We are short-changed every time we have to watch a football match at a cricket venue.)

Biggest disappointment
Fernando Torres. So frustrating watching a top player in a great side who just could not find his form.

Jabulani ball - if you believe the marketing, a Completely Round Aerodynamically Perfect ball. Take the initials and you have a better description.

Most dramatic moments
For Kiwis, Winston Reid's goal v Slovakia.

USA v Algeria - Landon Donovan's winner in extra time. An entire stadium erupts as USA escape going home early. People cried, strangers hugged, high fives all round.

(A classic example why the video referee should not be introduced in football. Replay those moments in your mind with a video ref. If you need absolute right and wrong, black and white, go play chess. If you want raw emotion, stick to football.)

Fred de Jong is a former All White

- NZ Herald

Have your say

We aim to have healthy debate. But we won't publish comments that abuse others. View commenting guidelines.

1200 characters left

Sort by
  • Oldest

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf05 at 22 Nov 2014 16:22:47 Processing Time: 454ms