New Zealand held an unrelenting but distinctly unlucky Bahrain to a goalless draw in the first-leg of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ Asia/Oceania play-off in Manama.
Bahrain missed at least four clear chances of scoring while the Kiwis defended stoutly and emerged unscathed, with their goalkeeper Mark Paston the hero of the evening. Bahrain enjoyed better ball possession, dictated the pace of the match but could not find the target to give meaning to their overall domination.
The second-leg is scheduled for 14 November in Wellington with the winner booking a berth for next year's FIFA World Cup in South Africa. New Zealand last competed in a FIFA World Cup way back in 1982, with their present coach Ricki Herbert a member of that team, while Bahrain are yet to play in the showpiece event.
The tiny Gulf nation, with a population of a little over a million, came agonisingly close to playing in the FIFA World Cup four years ago but lost to Trinidad and Tobago at the same stage and at the same venue.