All-Time Top 10: World Cup Moments
I must say the timing of the World Cup in Brazil is impeccable. It will fill up these last weeks of June nicely as I prepare for the big move. Once the kids were asleep (at least I think they were) I sat down to watch the opening match of the 2014 version played out between the host nation and Croatia. The Dalmatians were hard working and the hosts quite disorganized but in the end the scoreline looked a comfortable 3-1 to Brazil thanks , in part, to a bit of hometown reffing.
As a kid, when my country was not in the World Cup (most of the time) I tended to get in behind the likes of England and Brazil. But I have to say, as Brazilian sides go, this one isn’t very good. They have some good individuals in Neymar and Oscar but when you look at the movement of the team and their shape, they are poor. They have time to improve but if they play like they did last night I will be putting my support in behind another team sporting a better brand. That said I wont forget all the enjoyment the Brazil side has brought to the tournament throughout it’s history but right now they are a shadow of their predecessors. Now for my favourite team.
New Zealand isn’t very good at football (Also known as soccer to the rugbyhead) but we have on two occasions made the World Cup finals. And on those occasions (1982, 2010) I got caught up in World Cup fever daring to dream that we might mix it with the worlds best. We couldn’t quite mix it but we gave a good account of ourselves at times. Believe it or not New Zealand was the only team to come out of the 2010 World Cup finals with an undefeated record (not even eventual World Cup winners Spain could claim that).
When it comes to my top 10 World Cup moments, New Zealand features of course but there are many good moments and just as many contentious moments that stick out in my mind. Here goes:
10. The Boys in Green – USA 1994 – Italy 0 Ireland 1 – I know, I know, Italia 90 was better and I feel like I was there having lived in Ireland for so long and hearing all the stories. However it was this victory over the Baggio brothers and eventual finalists Italy that exacted a little revenge for the Schillaci surprise four years earlier.
9. Highland Fling – Spain 1982 – Scotland 5 New Zealand 2 – Ok so we didn’t win. But we scored two goals against a team with these names: Strachan, Dalgish, Gray, Hansen, Evans, Souness. As a Liverpool fan, I know the quality of opposition we faced. Well done lads you can hold your fuzzy 80’s heads up high.
8. Seaman’s Stain – Japan/South Korea 2002 – England 1 Brazil 2 – In a free kick situation England goalkeeper David Seaman came too far off his line and got chipped by man of the match Ronaldinho. It probably shouldn’t have happened but it showed the gap in class between Brazil and England.
7. Penalty Shoot Out – Italia 1990 – West Germany 1 England 1 (Germany won 4-3 on Penalties) – It’s a known fact that England can’t win penalty shoot outs. This one was fairly memorable. First a miss from Stuart Pearce and then Chris Waddle skied it over the bar. Germany went on to win the Cup.
6. The Other Boys in Green – France 1998 – Spain 2 Nigeria 3 – Plenty of goals always makes a great game. The Nigerians weren’t as strong as their 1994 vintage but this was an outstanding match that highlighted Nigeria’s power game.
5. Zidane’s Mum – Germany 2006 – Italy 1 France 1 (Italy won 5-3 on penalties) – The World Cup final of 2006 started well enough. Zidane had a penalty and it looked like France might have the goods to win their second World Cup in eight years. Then came Marco Materazzi who had other ideas. He said something to Zidane about his mother (… or was it his sister?). What came next was a headbutt followed by a red card for Zidane. From then Italy had the momentum and the Cup.
4. Spanish Midfield – South Africa 2010 – Germany 0 Spain 1 – Just the best example of midfield passing I can remember. Xavi, Iniesta and Xabi Alonso just passed around a really excellent young German team and broke them down.
3. The Mick and Roy Show – Japan/South Korea 2002 – Roy Keane 0 Mick McCarthy 0 – It wasn’t really a draw. Irish captain Roy Keane chose to leave the Irish squad on the eve of the 2002 tournament. His reason? He didn’t like the facilities, the weather, the food, the showers, the tiling, the players, the management, the game, the sun, the moon, the stars and apparently playing for his country. I’m trying to think of an All Black Captain who didn’t want to play because he didn’t like the facilities or the management. No, can’t think of one. I made it a draw but Ireland was the loser on this one.
2. Final Whistle – South Africa 2010 – Italy 1 New Zealand 1 – An early goal and desperate defending. It wasn’t pretty. I cried like a baby afterwards. So proud.
1. The Feet of God – Mexico 1986 – Argentina 2 England 1 – Forget about the ‘hand of god’, Maradona’s second goal was all class. It was as if the ball was glued to his feet. Hmm… maybe it was.