The sport is treading water yet again – there is a pall of pessimism hanging over the Mexico games and the junior world tournament results have been embarrassing. When you look at the teams who will miss out on next year’s World Cup in Brazil, it is unfathomable that New Zealand get so close, almost as a right. Having to fight harder in the first place, and knowing there will be a high-profile qualification series every four years, would be a much better scenario for Kiwi soccer. Fifa and New Zealand Football need to get their heads together to work out something more consistently exciting for the game here. As the 1982 miracle showed, the qualification process can be as wondrous, even more so, than what happens in the final tournament. A key indicator has been the absence of public scrutiny around coach Ricki Herbert. He has muddled his way through the undergrowth since 2010 virtually unchallenged because no one outside the inner soccer fraternity cares two hoots. I can’t claim to have the answer beyond the simplistic concept of integrating New Zealand into the Asian zone.
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