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Oceania needs a rethink after New Zealand thrashing

June 15, 2009

In the previous post, Martyn Herman looked at soccer’s international minnows while here Mark Gleeson discusses the particular plight of New Zealand.Oceania, as a confederation, threatened to disintegrate under the weight of a quick fire Fernando Torres hat-trick on Sunday night.The match-up in the Confederations Cup between European champions Spain and New Zealand, who represent FIFA’s smallest and least competitive confederation, was almost as one-sided as any major international in decades.As Torres banged in three goals in the first 17 minutes, so the legitimacy of the 11-member confederation came under a stark spotlight.Fortunately for Oceania’s cause, the Spanish managed just two more, albeit one profiting from a schoolboy error, but there will surely come a time when the gulf between the collection of Pacific island nations and the rest of the footballing world no longer produces a remotely equitable contest.Despite their best lobbying effort, Oceania are repeatedly denied a direct berth to the World Cup on sporting grounds. Their best team must playoff, usually against a South American country, or in the case for 2010, an Asian side, to qualify.Australia moved from Oceania to Asia because they felt it was uncompetitive and not advancing the standard of their game. Now New Zealand, where football is hoping to evolve from its current status as a minority sport, rules the roost against the islands, often barely breaking a sweat to dominate the confederation’s competitions.On the evidence of Sunday’s performance, New Zealand football would do well to join the Asian confederation too. They frankly need more exposure.Indeed Oceania’s collective cause is best served by folding into the Asian confederation where the island teams will find many other countries of the same footballing pedigree and have more competition too.Already Asia have created two tiers to accommodate its less proficient members and end years of ridiculous mis-matches.As Torres was riding roughshod in Rustenburg, I wonder whether that thought crossed the minds of any of FIFA’s top leadership.PHOTO: Spain’s Fernando Torres (C) rises above the New Zealand defence to score his third goal during their Confederations Cup soccer match at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg June 14, 2009. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

Comments

I agree, New Zealand football is not developing an inch as long as they stay in that Mickey Mouse league called the Oceania Confederation.New Zealand was in the Confed Cup for the first time in 1999 I believe, and lost all three group games. Chances are it could happen again this year. 10 years down the track.The NZ “All Whites” playing only three competitive games every four years isn’t gonna benefit them at all. They need to play strong teams on a structural basis to have any chance of becoming a better side. They need to join the Asian Confederation as soon as possible.

Posted by John Connor | Report as abusive
 

As a Kiwi and a fan of NZ football nothing pains me more than seeing how little we’ve developed. The sooner we move to Asia the better.

Posted by Ryan | Report as abusive
 

As a Kiwi, I beg FIFA to disband Oceania. It is a footballing black hole. It would be much better for both the domestic reputation and profile of our national football team as well as the quality of our football development to be playing regular, meaningful, competitive matches against Asian countries in Asian tournaments and qualifying competitions. We might even win occasionally. A handful of games against island nations and then three confed cup matches every four years is a recipe for going nowhere and getting an embarrassing hiding every time we sneak onto the global stage.I think NZ footballing authorities are beginning to realise that being a big fish in a backwater puddle is hopeless. The fans knew that long ago. The obstalce now will be Asia though. They dont want us. Sepp would need to roll them.

Posted by ML | Report as abusive
 

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