Having impressed the football world with their resilience in South Africa, New Zealand’s Winston Reid has told FIFA.com he will treasure the memories he made at the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ for the rest of his life.
The West Ham United defender had been preparing to take part in the OFC Nations Cup, which begins in the Solomon Islands on Friday, only to be ruled out with a groin injury just two days prior to the tournament. Victory will put the All Whites a step closer to repeating their dream in South Africa, where they ended the global finals as the only unbeaten side, by putting them into the third and final stage of Oceania qualifying and a possible intercontinental play-off for Brazil 2014.
They began their tournament two years ago against Slovakia, where Reid’s last-minute header won the Kiwis a dramatic point and the match unsurprisingly holds a special place in his heart. “Of course the first game was a fantastic match for me,” the 23-year-old centre-back said.
“Obviously my goal was an amazing feeling, especially to score with a header in our first game of the World Cup and they are memories I’ll treasure for the rest of my life, so it was great day for me and New Zealand football.”
He added: “It was very special and we’re looking forward to the chance of getting in that situation again.”
He now has his sights set on Brazil and the All Whites are favourites to claim back-to-back Nations Cups for the first time in their history. Victory would not only propel New Zealand into the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013, but would advance the All Whites towards a possible meeting with a side from North, Central America or the Caribbean, in a two-legged tie for a place at the global finals in 18 months’ time.
“It’s always difficult playing teams like that (from the CONCACAF region) but you know we’ll wait and see as it’s only early days now so I think the main thing to do is remain professional, see how things go, not look too far ahead and see if we qualify. In the last two years we’ve come a long way as a nation and a team so I’m sure we can persevere to take the opportunity that’s there.”
They start off their tilt at qualification against Fiji on Saturday, face Papua New Guinea two days later before wrapping up the group stage against the hosts on Wednesday. “Obviously [Brazil 2014] is only a couple of years away now and we obviously want to be involved so we’ll be aiming to make it there, but we’ll see how it goes."
Before that though there is the small matter of the 2012 Olympics, whose base in East London sits close to his club side, and should the opportunity arise Reid is keen to get involved.“I’ve talked a lot with the manager about it down there and we’ll have to wait and see, if he wants to bring me I’ll be up for it.
“Obviously it’s across the UK and in London not too far [from West Ham] and it only comes around every four years,” Reid said.” I’m sure there is a good squad of young players who can make an impact at it but it’s something I’d like to do so we’ll wait and see.”
The defender has every reason to enter the off-season with a sense of optimism after The Hammers claimed victory over Blackpool in the Championship play-off to win promotion to the Premier League. With their 2-1 victory at Wembley 12 days ago, Reid feels they are set up well to succeed in the top flight after a solid campaign following relegation a year ago.
“Personally for me it’s been a good season, I’ve played a lot of games but I think in the last few months particularly things have started to come together. New players have come in and played well and put us in a good position for the Premier League.”