All Whites watch out - here come the world champs

By Phoebe Falconer

Media coverage from around the world of the All Whites v Slovakia match. Source / Herald Graphic
Media coverage from around the world of the All Whites v Slovakia match. Source / Herald Graphic

Kiwis might still be revelling in yesterday's World Cup draw with Slovakia, but our next opponents, Italy, are not so easily impressed.

The All Whites face the reigning world champions on Monday, and its press was critical of the technical abilities of the New Zealanders.

The Italian sports newspaper, Corriere dello Sport, said the All Whites showed an "indomitable spirit" but lacked technical finesse and invention.

"The Kiwis have exposed very little beyond a great physique and great team spirit." Despite displaying a "good will", there was "little sophistication" to their play.

The game, it said, exhibited "not even a shadow of organised play" and was "a bleak landscape of technical inadequacy".

But such bleak assessments are unlikely to dampen New Zealanders' enthusiasm for their footballing heroes, nor that of Danish fans, who have been quick to claim equaliser-scoring Winston Reid as their own.

Even the Aussies wanted to get in on the claims, with the Sydney Morning Herald saying the result was a victory for "Australasia".

The Danish press has been revelling in Reid's last-minute goal, with one publication trumpeting "Finally, a Danish goal".

They were also quick to play up his Danish football history, from his discovery as a teen by FC Midtjylland and his subsequent 85 matches for the club.

The newspapers gleefully reported that Reid also represented Denmark in the under-19, under-20 and under-21 teams, before returning to his native New Zealand in the hope of being selected for the All Whites.

The Danish press admitted he had more chance of being selected for the All Whites than for the Danish squad.

FCM still considers Reid a member of the club, but accept he could be moving on if his exploits at the World Cup are noticed.

The club's coach, Allan Kuhn, makes no secret of Reid becoming a very saleable item after the World Cup tournament.

As for the Slovakian press, it was as if the national team had been kicked out of the competition altogether.

One newspaper, the Slovak daily SME, ran a story headlined: "The first disappointment. Footballers draw with New Zealand 1-1."

A former top coach was quoted calling the outcome "a small tragedy".

The paper said the team - particularly the defence - had failed after letting the team "from Oceania" score a goal right in the last minute of what was clearly Slovakia's game to win.

Slovakian coach Vladimir Weiss, speaking to the paper after the match, said the game was theirs, but also that there was a lesson in it.

"We should be careful ... New Zealanders are [not] pioneers."

Back in Italy, the Corriere said the Slovaks showed clear technical superiority but could not put the All Whites on the ropes.

It then went on to paint the ultimate picture of dissatisfaction for the Slovaks.

It referred to goal-winner Reid, saying: "The hero of the evening takes off his shirt in the cold and goes crazy with happiness, the ground around the bench of the Slovaks a sea of plastic bottles thrown in anger by reserves and technical staff."

450,000 WATCH GAME ON BOX

Television ratings for the All Whites opener in South Africa show New Zealand is not only a nation of rugby fans. The late-night All Whites match against Slovakia attracted over 450,000 viewers across TV One and Sky Sport.

The game rivalled last Saturday's All Blacks clash with Ireland, which pulled 461,000 viewers at the earlier time of 7.30pm.

TVNZ said that when the All Whites took to the pitch at 11.30pm on Tuesday, around 250,000 more New Zealanders were watching TV One than on an average weeknight.

While the numbers show strong interest in the game, TVNZ news and current affairs publicity manager Andi Brotherston says ratings are likely to fall during New Zealand's next two matches, against Italy and Paraguay.

"We can tell that people stayed up to watch the game because the late night news programme rated really well. But we expect the next two games won't pull such a large audience as they kick off at 2am. People will have to get out of bed to watch them."

She said Winston Reid's last minute goal would help retain viewers.

Ms Brotherston said if the All Whites got knocked out then audience numbers would waver until the semifinals, climbing right back up for the grand final, scheduled to start at 6.30am on July 12.

- additional reporting by Vaimoana Tapaleao and Hamish Fletcher

- NZ Herald

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