Football: Results justify tactics, says Anthony Hudson

By Kris Shannon

Hudson hit back at reaction from home he described as "negativity every day". Photo / AFP
Hudson hit back at reaction from home he described as "negativity every day". Photo / AFP

All Whites coach Anthony Hudson was sick of the criticism directed at his team - now he has a relative glut of games to prove the critics wrong.

After winning the Oceania Nations Cup in a penalty shootout against Papua New Guinea on Saturday night, Hudson hit back at reaction from home he described as "negativity every day".

New Zealand battled rather than blitzed their way to victory in Port Moresby, playing a brand of football that would have won no new fans but, crucially, did eventually win the tournament.

All the long balls and wasted possession, Hudson insisted, were made worthwhile with a place at next year's Confederations Cup in Russia, when the way the All Whites played in the last fortnight would be a distant memory.

The coach outlined a range of factors when explaining his side's approach - an abridged build-up consisting of games against Australian club teams, a squad missing as many as five first-choice players, temperatures that exceeded 30 degrees - and argued a pragmatic if cynical plan was the best course of action to accomplish the chief goal.

"The objective all along was to get to Russia," Hudson told Radio Sport. "This is a completely transitional team and to come here and be organised in a short space of time in the heat and the conditions was outstanding."

Hudson was defiant when questioned about his promise, on taking the All Whites job, to play in a positive fashion and look to keep possession, pointing to previous friendlies against South Korea and China as examples of his style being deployed.

"I have my own beliefs about the game, and I've always been very vocal about that, but I'm not going to defend or try to justify the style of play," he said. "My job is to win and win with the tools that I have and the context I'm working in."

That context, Hudson hopes, will become a little more straightforward in the future, even if the opposition reaches a completely new level. That will certainly be the case at the Confederations Cup next June, when the All Whites will face three world-class teams, but there will first be more Oceania opponents to tackle.

Four regional World Cup qualifiers will begin in November and, presuming they encounter no stumbles, will be followed by a two-legged OFC final and a two-legged intercontinental playoff for a spot at the World Cup.

Arranging quality fixtures will be the priority between now and then, and Hudson believed the last fortnight's success should ensure that box is ticked.

"We're going to be able to attract big games with bigger teams," he said. "That will really set us up for the qualifier [next] November. It was so important that we got [to the Confederations Cup] to help us prepare for our intercontinental playoff."

- NZ Herald

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