The Socceros scored an injury-time winner to beat the All Whites 2-1 last night. But the New Zealanders can walk away from the match with their heads held high. They took the match to the Australians in the first half especially, to the point where boos rang around the MCG as the half-time whistle blew with the Kiwis ahead 1-nil.
The Australians were anything but friendly, earning three yellow cards in a cynical first half. At least one of those should have been red. Leo Bertois can count himself lucky that he doesn't have a broken leg after a sickening foul by Vince Grella midway through the half. Grella should have been red-carded on the spot; it was that bad.
The match lost a lot of its shape in the second half as both coaches took advantage of the agreement allowing six subsitutes each, and it was there that the All Whites' defence was breached. They can take a lot of heart from the match however; it wasn't the flogging that many were predicting, especially Australians! The starting eleven settled nicely, but the loss of Bertos and Tim Brown in the first half forced changes. Doubtless Ricki Herbert will have plenty to reflect on as her prepares for the next warm-up match.
It's only three weeks now until the All Whites play their first match at the World Cup. We're starting to get more than a litle excited!
PS: If our coverage of the World Cup isn't enough, there's a world of information and opinion out there, but you can do a whole lot worse than William Fussey's Football World Cup blog. William is a Facebook friend of ours, and a politics junkie to boot, and his re-launched blog is well worth a look - if you can get past the fact that he's a Leeds United fan that is!!