NZ fans may have to keep waiting

Mosgiel set what is believed to be a premier league record when it beat Northern 20-0. Photo:...
Photo: ODT files.
Cancellations have upset sports fans all over the world this year.

But you could forgive All Whites fans for being a little extra upset if the side’s game against Belgium is indeed cancelled.

They had been set to play the world No1 next month, but reports suggest travel restrictions may prevent them doing so.

New Zealand Football has said that has not been confirmed.

Player safety is its primary concern, although if it was forced to cancel the game it would be a blow.

That would not just take away the opportunity to play the world’s top side; it would deny fans the chance to watch the All Whites play, something exciting in itself.

Since the last World Cup qualifying matches against Peru in November 2017, they have played just six matches, none at home.

There were four games in 2018 — three within a week of each other — and two in November last year.

With all due respect to Chinese Taipei and India, they are not the same quality opponent Belgium would be.

In the same time the All Blacks have played 27 tests, nine at home.

The Black Caps have played 99 matches — 20 tests, 48 one-day internationals and 31 twenty20 internationals — 63 at home.

Of course, New Zealand’s standing in those sports is far greater than football on a world stage.

Attracting rugby and cricket teams to play against is not an issue, while money and player availability does not present the same issues, either.

But it does show how rare it has become for the All Whites to actually take the field — and how significant those games are for New Zealand football fans.

It is a shame it has happened in an era in which New Zealand has plenty of talent to choose from, too.

Chris Wood is a genuinely classy goal scorer in the English Premier League, while when fit Winston Reid is rock solid in the defensive line.

There is also the likes of Ryan Thomas and Sarpreet Singh, bringing real class to a team.

They just need to get on the field.

 

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