grading nz at the world cup

With the opening game of the World Cup happening to my left as I write, I find myself wondering about how well New Zealand will play at the event.

New Zealand has been the focus of joke-making all over the footballing world, having reached the finals by beating the likes of Vanuatu and Bahrain - while multiple teams in Europe and South America, with a far better pedigree than NZ, remain at home. But as they say, "you play to the whistle" - and NZ has played by the rules and here we are. Simply marvelous. [Although I can't see the rules staying as they are - so let's enjoy it while it lasts].

While there is plenty of optimism around, we do need to be realistic about NZ's chances. Before a game is even played here is how I would assess NZ's results:

Making it to the second round. This would be remarkable and go down as one of the great achievements in our sporting history.

Winning a game in the opening round. [As I understand it, this does not necessarily lead to making it into the second round]. Regardless of what happens in the other games this would be a result to savour.

Gaining two draws in the three games played in the opening round - and maybe scoring some memorable goals which my grandchildren will watch again and again on TV.

Gaining one draw AND keeping the 'goal difference' (the difference between the number of goals scored against NZ and the goals scored by NZ) below three. In other words we compete fully, we are not embarassed, no team beats us by more than two goals - and (hopefully) we score some nice goals ourselves.

Gaining one draw, but the total goal difference rises to more than three.

Gaining one draw, but the total goal difference rises to more than seven. In other words we scratch out one good result but are embarassed badly in at least one other game, demonstrating that we do not really belong in the game at this level.

Losing all three games in the round robin but we are competitive in all of them - scoring some goals ourselves and keeping the total goal difference to less than five.

Losing all three games, the goal difference rises above five, but we do score a memorable goal - and in this our fans and media will delight for forever.

Losing all three games, the goal difference rises above five - and we score no goals at all.

We are embarassed, losing all three games with a total goal difference rising above nine.

nice chatting



not a wild hera said…
Wow, Paul, you have really given this some serious thought! Enjoy the tournament!

I have just dropped a couple of SU interns at the All Black test in Newpie, the Irish one wearing a leprechaun hat and beard and a Kiss Me I'm Irish bandanna (which his mother gave him when he came to Aotearoa!). Sportsmania everywhere!

Jamie Bay said…
I think that Ricki Herbert being offered a contract with a significant European club would also fit somewhere into the grading scale.

Also thought you might enjoy this:
Paul said…
And not just Ricki Herbert with a contract - some of our players as well... A good thought Jamie.

And was that tkr writing on a sporting context. I am impressed!
Anonymous said…
was this written before or after we had Australia by which to provide an Australisian standard? (already over your 3 goal average)


steve taylor
Paul said…
B- ... and rising - and I haven't seen a minute of it yet as I am over in the UK. I am sure the country is going mad.
Scott said…
A- !!! As of the draw with Italy. Go you good thing :)
Paul said…
So - I hear...

I am in SW Wales far from any TV or radio that carries commentary. In fact I went up a hill to get on the internet via my cell phone and saw a final score of 1-1.

Amazing! New Zealand must be going absolutely crazy. For a sports fan like me, it is hard to be so far away.

Always thought my assessing system was a bit tough - but then students tended to say that about me which I never did understand. I am pure compassion.

I suspect that most of us feel we are in A+++ land already.

Now I just need to find a TV for Paraguay.

Enjoy it all vicariously for me...
Mark Maffey said…
after drawing all three games, playing with heart and passion, and I am sure resultant contract for a number of players,the All Whites can be proud of what they have achieved. Whilst they haven't made the second round,they at the very least deserve an A pass.

I am sure there will be a number of sermon illustrations arising from their efforts.
Ryan Bond said…
So Paul what is your final pronouncement for the All Whites? No losses but no wins either. Finishing ahead of the current world champions - pretty remarkable. A- ? A ?
Paul said…
Yes, it was a tough examination (goodness me, the finalists from the last tournament have fallen out!) and as the sole examiner I reserve full right to scale results accordingly.

Three draws? Returning home unbeaten? Finishing ahead of the world champions? Having a 'goal difference' of zero... Each of these achievements is remarkable on their own - for a team with a banker and a teacher in their midst (as the Brits love to remind us!)

If you were into the bookies, what would this result have been at the start of the tournament? 500-1?!

This was a clear "A+" performance. No ballots need to be cast for the Halberg's "team of the year" OR "team of the decade" - as this was surely one for the ages for any lover of New Zealand sport.

[... and I was stuck over here in the UK ... but I did have a lemonade in three different Welsh pubs over the course of 24 hours as I watched three games with Langham colleagues. That was fun!]

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