Football: Italian media bag own side rather than give credit to All Whites

The Italian press, which just days earlier had dismissed both the All Whites, and their style of football, was as ungracious following what amounted to a defeat for the Azzurri yesterday.

Sports newspaper Corriere dello Sport wrote off the New Zealanders in the days leading up to the Italy match, heaping scorn on the All Whites' lack of "sophistication", and "bleak landscape of technical inadequacy".

And La Gazzetta Dello Sport was not much more flattering in the wake of yesterday's upset, which has left the world champion facing an uphill slog to the final 16.

The paper described the All Whites as "excellent athletes but mediocre footballers", but chose instead to focus on Italy's shortcomings in the match.

"Italy attacked with everything they had, but had too difficult a time. This type of play from Italy will not do," reporter Riccardo Pretesi said.

"Italy with no game and headless," La Repubblica complained.

"An Italy without quality," Corriere della Sera said on its front page alongside an analysis of the "long decline of a great captain" - Fabio Cannavaro.

"It's a really poor result, more than disappointing. I would say chilling," Gianni Mura wrote in La Repubblica.

Meanwhile, La Nacion newspaper in Paraguay, the All Whites' next opponent, described their draw with Italy as a David and Goliath battle.

However, the paper seemed more interested in how Italy might rally, rather than on what threat the New Zealanders pose.

"Italy has complicated life and now must define its future against Slovakia with the imperative of winning."

Luckily, the views of the Italian media were not shared by football fans across the world, who heaped praise on New Zealand for its latest surprise result.

In this part of the world, the Sydney Morning Herald, described yesterday's draw as "a famous day for New Zealand football, a famous day for New Zealand anything".

The match, writer Dan Silkstone said, "pitted holders against hangers-on", and was ultimately, "a moment they will make bronze statues about".

Britain's Daily Telegraph also celebrated the All Whites' win, describing them as the team that came as cannon fodder, but which had "detonated" Italy's World Cup hopes.

"Any pretence Marcello Lippi [the Italian coach] and his side had of retaining their trophy was exposed as folly by the team from the ultimate backwater, the proverbial team of part-timers and no-hopers," reporter Rory Smith wrote.

Michael Walker, writing in the Daily Mail, called New Zealand's underdog result "the most heart- warming and unforeseen development at the World Cup", while ex-pat New Zealander Toby Manhire writing in the Guardian reckoned yesterday's draw was "the day New Zealand finally fell in love with that round-ball game".

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