James Ihaka

James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Soccer: Spithill's special message to All Whites

It's never over. America's Cup winning captain delivers message to All Whites

Marco Rojas and his All Whites teammates have been advised to follow Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill's example. Photo / Getty Images
Marco Rojas and his All Whites teammates have been advised to follow Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill's example. Photo / Getty Images

America's Cup winning skipper Jimmy Spithill has delivered a special message to the All Whites this morning ahead of their must-win match against Mexico.

"Get in their heads and don't think it's over."

The All Whites play Mexico in Wellington tonight and must win the match by at least 4-nil to qualify for the World Cup finals in Brazil next year.

It's a big ask for the All Whites, under coach Ricki Herbert. They've also got to hope that Mexico don't score.

The TAB has all but written off their chances, with the All Whites paying $40 to progress to next year's finals.

Relive the All Whites' win over Bahrain with the Herald's special look back here.

Spithill this year presided over one of the most outstanding sporting comebacks.

Team New Zealand were leading Spithill's Oracle Team USA by 8 races to 1, needing just one race to take the Cup, when Oracle's big comeback began.

This morning Jimmy Spithill delivered his message of support to the All Whites.

Asked what New Zealand must do to stage the most improbable victory against a side ranked 54 places higher than them, Spithill said: "Get in their heads and don't think it's over...

"It's never over."

Former All White captain Steve Sumner said he was "praying for a miracle" but the team needed to be lacking in fear and full of self-belief.

He suggested Oracle's America's Cup performance could provide some inspiration.

"You look at results through history and you try to get people to believe. It's not just about football, it's even about the recent America's Cup - how did they get back from that result to beat us?" he asked.

"It's the most recent unbelievable thing we've heard, isn't it? It's just unheard of but they did it."

Sumner said the 1982 All Whites were faced with a similar scenario to Oracle's miracle comeback when they had to beat Saudi Arabia by six goals to advance to the finals in Spain.

They won the match 5-nil and went to a sudden death match against China.

He said a pre-match speech from then coach Jon Adshead in Riyadh in which he told them to play with pride, dignity and passion inspired them.

"Results are like that when you believe ... if you are playing with fear it's different."

The match, to be played in front of 37,00 fans at the Westpac Trust Stadium in Wellington, kicks off at 7pm.

Jimmy Spithill.
Jimmy Spithill.

Never say die

America's Cup quotes from Jimmy Spithill :
"We can beat these guys; we have shown we can.''
After Team NZ move to 4-1
"It's not over. It's a long way from over.''
After Team NZ move to 8-1
"I think we are the underdog and I'm going to keep running with that and use that energy ...''
After Oracle tie the series 8-8
"On your own you're nothing, but with a team like this around you, they can make you look great.''
After Oracle win the final race to retain the Cup

Great football comebacks

1.Liverpool v AC Milan, 2005 Champions League Final, Istanbul: 3-3 (3-2 on penalties)
At 3-nil down at halftime Liverpool looked dead. But in an incredible 6 minutes they staged an unbelievable comeback to level the match. The game goes to penalties and Liverpool keeper Jerzy Dudek emerges as the hero - saving three.

2.Charlton Athletic 7 v Huddersfield Town 6, 1957:
With Huddersfield leading 5 to 1 with just 27 minutes remaining in their second division clash, Charlton fans on the terraces saw little reason to see the game out and left in droves. Cue Charlton left winger Johnny Summers, who pulls off an absolute blinder, adding four goals to the one he bagged in the first half. Summers also assists with two others to lead Charlton to victory.

3.Tranmere Rovers 4 v Southampton 3, FA Cup, 2001:
John Aldridge's first division team of journeymen and honest triers were 3-nil down at the break against favourites Southampton in the 2001 FA Cup showdown fifth round replay at Prenton Park. But after 83 minutes, the Rovers somehow take the lead, netting four goals, and then hold on to win. "I was there, it was emotional," said Herald chief reporter Stuart Dye.

- NZ Herald

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