Soccer: Aussies green with envy as All Whites deliver

By Chris Barclay

SYDNEY - Winston Reid's golden goal has them green with envy.

While New Zealand savours a miraculous start to the All Whites' World Cup campaign in South Africa, some Australian observers remain in a soccer stupor.

Being dismantled by Germany was bad enough, but at least the Kiwis will get flogged right? Wrong, for now at least.

A 1-1 draw with Slovakia might not attract too much consternation in the footballing world outside of Bratislava, but the All Whites achievement in Rustenberg overnight - thanks to Reid's injury time header - did not go unnoticed in soccer's transtasman stronghold.

"The Socceroos rolled up their tent against the Germans, but the All Whites refused to lay down against the Slovaks," noted Michael Cockerill in the Sydney Morning Herald.

"A huge gulf in quality in terms of the opposition, granted. But there is a moral to this story. Don't get caught up in the hype.

"Now New Zealand have given themselves a hope, however slim, of achieving the impossible dream. Getting past the group stage. Paraguay and Italy will offer much sterner tests than the modestly endowed Slovaks. But where there's a will, there's a way.

"New Zealand didn't have too many ideas, but they did have a solution, even if it arrived late," Cockerill continued.

"A player with a Maori background and Danish parentage has united a nation, not that New Zealand hasn't been right behind the All Whites. After this famous, almost unbelievable, result, watch the euphoria build. Incredible."

In stark contrast to the build-up to the Socceroos disaster in Durban on Monday, even the most optimistic All Whites fan would have been shocked by a stalemate at Royal Bafokeng Stadium.

As Wellingtonian Craig Mathieson told the Herald before kick off: "Winning would be great. Drawing would be good. Losing would not be too bad. Just so long as we don't lose by four goals."

That sly reference to Germany's winning margin has not gone down well with occupants of Tent City in Durban, the Socceroos' Fanatics home away from home.

"As if we didn't have enough to worry about, we're going to have the bloody Kiwis climbing into our faces," feared Luke Williamson.

French news agency AFP also acknowledged the significance of the greatest result in New Zealand soccer history.

"While the Socceroos struggle to come to terms with their 4-0 thrashing by Germany, Australia's transtasman cousins produced a performance with the sort of grit and spirit Pim Verbeek's men are desperate for."

Slovakia manager Vladimir Weiss summed up the unexpected draw as a "tragedy".

- NZPA


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