The clean sheet: 17 June

Was Wednesday deflating? Yes. Were the All Whites on the wrong end of some defining refereeing decisions? Absolutely. Did that cost them the game? That’s a stretch. As bad as those decisions were, they were no worse than the piece of horrendous defending that led to Costa Rica’s third-minute goal. It is easy to deflect the blame on the officials — and it is something that happens too often. But after such a sloppy start, it is hard to say he was responsible for the loss

The Southern League takes a break this weekend as another week of Cup football rolls around. Northern joins the three Dunedin Southern League teams as the Chatham Cup moves to its third round. Northern travels to Sunnyvale to face Green Island tomorrow at 1.30pm. At Memorial Park, Mosgiel hosts the Dunedin City Royals on Sunday at 1pm, in a rematch of last week’s Southern League match, which the Royals won 2-0. Cashmere Technical plays Ferrymead Bays and Nelson Suburbs face Coastal Spirit in the Mainland matches, the winners advancing to enter the round-of-16 South Island-wide draw.

The Dunedin City Royals went a long way to securing the Southern Women’s Premiership on Wednesday with an 8-0 win over Otago University in Shontelle Smith’s 150th premier game. The two teams will meet again as the only southern teams left in the Kate Sheppard Cup. It would be a huge mountain for University to climb. The winner will advance to face the winner of Coastal Spirit and Cashmere Technical. If that is the Royals, that game will be a true indicator of the ability of this team.

Complaints, the defensive lapse and emotions aside, what a fantastic All Whites team. There are several world-class players and a handful not far away from joining them. This team has shown the progress of New Zealand Football and would comfortably beat the 2010 edition that made it to the World Cup. With (hopefully) more games over the next cycle, that should continue to grow and the team will gain a stronger foothold on the wider New Zealand sporting landscape.

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