Wellington: New Zealand Prime Minister John
Key joined a chorus of Kiwi celebration Monday as the
lowly-ranked national football team pulled off a shock 1-1
World Cup draw with four-time champions Italy.
Key, who attended the match with his 10-year-old son,
lauded New Zealand`s brave performance.
"The All Whites showed all the courage and character we
know they possess to score what is New Zealand`s best result
yet in world football," Key said in a statement.
"In drawing with one of the world`s top teams, the All
Whites have surprised everybody and stunned the footballing
world. The team can take great pride in their result."
Key said he had personally congratulated coach Ricki
Herbert, captain Ryan Nelsen and the team.
"I am sure all New Zealanders will join with me in saying
how proud we are of the All Whites. I wish the team all the
best for their next game against Paraguay on Friday."
The match screened in New Zealand around 3am on a Monday
morning, leaving many Kiwi workers bleary eyed on the first
day of a new working week. New Zealanders watched the match in
bars or at home as a mid-winter chill discouraged large
New Zealand media, who had hailed their team`s 1-1 draw
with Slovakia in its opening match as New Zealand`s greatest
football achievement, repeated that claim Monday under
headlines which described the result as stunning and heroic.
New Zealand Herald correspondent Michael Brown called the
"Little, old New Zealand with just 25 professional
footballers - Italy has 3541. A country which had played just
four World Cup matches before this morning drew with one which
has won four World Cup titles. Crazy.”
"If the Slovakia result was incredible, this is truly
mind-blowing and they still have a genuine chance of
progressing to the second round although Paraguay looked slick
in their 2-0 defeat of Slovakia.”
"That would be one of the biggest surprises in World Cup
history, much like the US beating England in 1950."
A website ran a match
report under the headline "That Was Ka Rawe", a Maori word
which translates as awesome.
Football writer Paul Thompson said New Zealand had luck
on its side but had also shown nerve against a powerful team.
"This was primarily a glorious team effort. A monument to
self belief. Undoubtedly a great moment for our nation.”
"Kei whea ke mai te pai o te mahi nei, Aotearoa (What an
excellent job, New Zealand!)."
One of the sweetest aspects of the All Whites` success
for New Zealanders has been that it has drawn the grudging
respect of Australians, normally bitter rivals on the sporting
After Australia`s 4-0 loss to Germany and New Zealand`s
1-1 draw with Slovakia, many Australians claimed to be
supporting New Zealand, whom they said should now play as
The Sydney Morning Herald applauded New Zealand`s
"This was a famous day for New Zealand football, a famous
day for New Zealand anything," correspondent Dan Silkstone