Tahiti win OFC as New Zealand are humiliated

One of the highlights of the 2010 World Cup was the emergence of a inexperienced New Zealand team who were eliminated at the group stage but remarkably went out of the tournament unbeaten.

Their 1-1 draw with mighty Italy was greeted with wild celebrations in a country where natives have had to watch fierce rivals, Australia, rub shoulders with the best. If 2010 was their biggest high, then 2012 has brought them crashing back down to earth with a wallop.


The 2012 Oceania Nations Cup showcased one of the biggest shocks in football history when New Zealand were unceremoniously dumped out of the competition at the semi final stage by amateurs New Caledonia.


Eight of the players that played against Italy in the World Cup faced New Caledonia but were unable to break their resistance as the All Whites went down two goals to nil. Two notable absences proved to be their downfall. Defenders Winston Reid and Ryan Nelsen were missing from a defence which gifted New Caledonia their two goals.


Although New Caledonia lost out to Tahiti in the final, their win in the semi finals was celebrated like a World Cup win and rightly so.


The OFC, which doubles up as 2014 World Cup qualifiers, had never been won by anyone besides Australia and New Zealand before this years tournament. Tahiti’s  win in the final has earned them a place at the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil. With Australia’s deflection to Asia, New Zealand were considered a shoe-in for the Oceania spot but the humiliating exit in the semi finals will not be forgotten quickly.


New Zealand barely recovered for the 3rdplace play off against hosts Solomon Islands. Leading 3-0 at half time they were pegged back to 3-3 before Shane Smeltz scored the winner in injury time to spare their blushes for a second time in a matter of days.


But the damage of the defeat against New Caledonia can not be underestimated. Coach Ricki Herbert called the loss a ‘travesty.’ New Zealand must recover quickly or the hard work of 2010 will be undone forever. Just how damaging the defeat is remains to be seen. As the last four left in the OFC qualify for the next round of the World Cup qualifiers, New Zealand must respond and restore their pride.


Meanwhile Tahiti will enjoy their trip to Brazil at their expense.


Watch Highlights of New Caledonia’ famous win


Kam Gill