After a disastrous campaign four years ago, New Zealand bounced back in emphatic fashion under coach Ricki Herbert to qualify for their first appearance on the world stage in 28 years following a debut showing at Spain 1982. Herbert, and assistant Brian Turner, were both key figures in the campaign nearly three decades ago. The duo have turned the All Whites into a solid unit whose rearguard, the fifth-placed Asian nation Bahrain was unable to breach over 180 minutes of the intercontinental play-off.
Four years after elimination by the Solomon Islands, the Kiwis claimed the Oceania crown to earn a trip to the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, where they showed solid form after a poor opening against European champions Spain. The dramatic South Africa 2010 play-off victory against Bahrain united the Rugby-mad nation behind the All Whites like never before, resulting in a national record crowd in the capital Wellington for the decisive qualifier.
The road to South Africa
New Zealand topped their Oceania qualification group comfortably winning their first five games before an inconsequential defeat in Fiji with many of the first-team regulars were unavailable. The Kiwis then had an 11-month wait before a two-legged meeting with the fifth-placed Asian nation. Bahrain saw off regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia to earn the right to play New Zealand, having also reached the same stage four years ago, only to fail against Trinidad and Tobago. In exhausting heat, New Zealand ...