Sunday, January 10, 2010

10 January 1982 - New Zealand's Chinese Take-Out

On 10 January 1982, in what may have been the greatest population disparity in football history, New Zealand (pop. 3 million) beat the People's Republic of China (pop. 1 billion) by the score of 2-1 to qualify for the Kiwis' first-ever World Cup.

New Zealand plays in the Oceania Football Confederation, which, for 1982 World Cup qualification, was competing with the Asian Football Confederation for 2 of the 24 available slots. New Zealand's All Whites--named to contrast with the rugby All Blacks--won their First Round group over rival Australia to advance to the Final Round, along with Kuwait, China, and Saudi Arabia.

New Zealand and China finished tied for second in the Final Round table, even on points and goal difference, and were required to resolve matters through a playoff on neutral territory. They met in Singapore, where the All Whites took a 2-0 lead in the 47th minute. China pushed to break the Kiwis' defense and managed to pull within one after finding the net in the 75th minute, but was stifled after that as New Zealand held on for the win. It was actually New Zealand's second win over China in the group. The first was a 1-0 win in Auckland on 3 October 1981 after drawing 0-0 in Beijing on 24 September 1981.

In Spain for the World Cup, New Zealand was eliminated in the First Round group stage after losses to Scotland, the USSR, and Brazil. But supporters' feelings were represented by New Zealand's then-World Cup Director Charlie Dempsey, who stated "Singapore was our World Cup Final. We have won our World Cup."

New Zealand recently qualified for the 2010 World Cup and will make its second ever appearance in the tournament.

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