New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert admitted it was "incredible" to see his class of 2009 emulate the efforts of the 1982 national team he was a part of as a player in reaching the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.
The All Whites' 1-0 win over Bahrain at Westpac Stadium in Wellington today ensured a second appearance for New Zealand at FIFA's global showpiece. "I said through the week that I think the special moment was going to be winning this football match and seeing the emotion on the players because when you play you don't see it all, you don't see that landscape, and wow it was incredible," said Herbert.
Tonight is about these boys, about a group who believed and have never stopped believing, and their dream continues which is fantastic.
"We've all worked hard, we all backed the system that we truly believed was good enough to win it and they've gone and done it," the breathless manager added. "Tonight is about these boys, about a group who believed and have never stopped believing, and their dream continues which is fantastic."
A Rory Fallon header in the 45th minute proved the difference between the sides, while New Zealand goalkeeper Mark Paston also saved a second-half penalty from Sayed Mohamed Adnan. Herbert admitted the side got off to slow start but quickly came into contention, with his players stepping up at both ends. "We've waited 27 years to resurrect something very important to us," he went on. "These boys are going to a World Cup."
Herbert also gave the squad of 18 players a vote of confidence in their places for next year's tournament. "I would be incredibly surprised if any of these players would be omitted from South Africa," he said.