After being run off the pitch 5-1 by Mexico on Thursday, the All Whites were apparently worn out by their extensive media commitments and travel itinerary during the first leg of their intercontinental playoff too.
Ricki Herbert's All Whites flew in to Wellington Airport this morning and despite their media schedule indicating the coach and selected players would be available to speak to journalists, a blanket media ban was instigated at the last minute.
It sparked crazy scenes at the domestic terminal in the capital after the All Whites had flown in from Auckland following a long flight from Los Angeles.
A pushy Mexican media contingent and a collection of local journalists were keen to hear from Herbert but the underfire coach strode through the terminal, flanked by All Whites manager Brian Turner and a security guard, and didn't utter a word.
New Zealand Football media liaison Paul Gunn offered this explanation as to why nobody would front up: ``It's not so much a media stonewall,'' Gunn said. "It's just the team have been travelling for 36 hours now and coming back in to New Zealand, basically the onslaught and the level of media interest throughout the whole tournament's built up and the guys are just really fatigued.''
That excuse doesn't wash completely given the All Whites travel business class and most of the players hardly looked dead on their feet as they waited for their bags. Some made small talk with a few fans and well-wishers who came to the airport.
Wellington Phoenix players Andrew Durante and Jeremy Brockie briefly chatted with a couple of reporters but acknowledged they couldn't speak on the record under team orders.
The media ban was a bad look for the All Whites and it was a missed opportunity for them to drum up support ahead of Wednesday's second leg of the playoff against Mexico at Westpac Stadium.
Players and the coaching staff could have made a plea to the fans to rally behind the team as they search for an unlikely 4-0 win to claim the tie and advance to next year's World Cup in Brazil.
"Can completely appreciate that it's not always a good look,'' Gunn said of today's media ban. "But the guys say they're tired, they've had a big trip, they're really positive and want to get on with things but today was a day for them to rest, recoup and get their energy levels back.''