THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

What are the expectations for the team?
Fairly low. A point in the group stage would be deemed a success. Then again, after nearly causing an upset against Italy at last year’s Confederations Cup, anything is possible.

Is the coach popular?
Ricki Herbert doesn’t quite possess the god-like status of an All Black just yet, although seemingly he can do no wrong. This year, as well as becoming only the second coach to take NZ to the World Cup, he guided Wellington Phoenix to the A-League preliminary final in only their third season. Of course, he was also a member of the revered 1982 squad that gave Scotland a scare in their opening group game. 

Are there any players with unusual hobbies or business interests?
Striker Shane Smeltz always has startlingly bad hair. I’m not sure whether that counts as a hobby. It certainly takes dedication.

Is the team likely to have any unusual goal celebrations?
Going completely barmy would be my guess. If a Wellington player scores, you might also see the famous Phoenix symbol – a bird-like crossed thumbs gesture in front of the chest. Don’t expect any haka nonsense though.

Are any players involved in politics?
No. They’re more likely to be mortgage brokers in the making.

Have the team recorded a song for the World Cup?
There was a tune for the Bahrain play-off called One Shot For Glory which was a strange, guitar-based Kiwi/Cockney hybrid terrace chant number. It sounds like someone has been listening to too much Blur. Still, we should all be thankful they haven’t yet re-released 1982’s awful effort, Heading For The Top.

What will the media coverage be like?

Fred de Jong, the ex-Fortuna Sittard striker, is rolled out for the big tournaments on Sky Sports. A cardboard cutout would have more charisma. In addition to supporting New Zealand he is also extremely one-eyed in favour of Holland. Still, even Fred is preferable to the presenter Dennis Katsanos whose knowledge of football appears to have been accumulated from the back of a cereal packet.

What will the media coverage be like?
Sky Sports are showing every game even though they’re all in the wee small hours down here. New Zealand matches will probably be delayed on terrestrial TV. If it wasn’t for the All Whites qualifying, most of the nation probably wouldn’t know there was a tournament on.

Will there be many fans travelling to South Africa?
There are bound to be some ex-pat New Zealanders living in South Africa because of the rugby link. Don’t expect any mass exodus for the tournament. The crowd at All Blacks matches only have one chant: All Blacks! Along these lines, All Whites! used to be very popular but, with the advent of Wellington Phoenix and a distinctively British-influenced fanbase, songs have become more interesting of late. My favourite, in honour of a Tony Adams-esque centre-back is (to the tune of You’re so shit it’s unbelievable!): Nothing rhymes with Ivan Vicelich! Bob Moore 

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