All Whites success vital for the promotion of the A-Leagues
The Oceania Football Confederation begins its first competitive running in some five years with a condensed World Cup qualifying tournament held in Qatar over the next few weeks.
The All Whites of New Zealand, its overwhelming favourites, have reached a fascinating point in their development.
After all, they are led by something of a household name in football circles, and another 2010 run is possible.
So what can they do for the game in this country? How does Australian football, and more specifically the shared first division, maximise off the back of an exciting and pulsating All Whites team?
That famous side of 2010 was led by a Gold Coast United striker, attached to pre-match graphics that memorable night in Nelspruit. Shane Smeltz gave his country a 1-0 lead against world champions Italy.
Smeltz puts New Zealand ahead against Italy, the most iconic moment in their history. (Getty Images)
To say the moment put the A-League on world football's radar wouldn't be accurate. But its impact of a belief in a then growing competition was vital.
Things are now undoubtedly different. It's more reason why an All Whites run would inspire a generation to embrace the local game, having reformed its football structure.
The National League, formally known under many sponsored monikers as the Premiership, has entered a regionally tiered system. It gives less fancied programmes and clubs a realistic chance of making their way up the pyramid within one season.
A merger of two Southern clubs, Caversham and Dunedin Tech, combined to make a wholesome story as the South City Royals pulled off many impressive wins in the South division, ultimately missing out on National League promotion at the death to Selwyn United.
This constant innovation and grassroots connection to a professional pathway make New Zealand's journey admirable. It's a competition that helped make Roy Krishna a cult hero of the A-League and an icon across Fiji and the four regions we know as the Oceanian continent.
Roy Krishna became an icon for the Phoenix, and a trailblazer for footballers across the Pacific. (Fox Sports)
On Australasian soil, one country seems to be facing a tumultuous period, whilst the other provides a solid base for the growth of all it encompasses.
This growth is of paramount importance. New Zealand may start producing more players for the A-Leagues with its pathway to Oceania's many inspiring young footballers. Perhaps the next Roy is around the corner?
Considering the All Whites of today and the past, their journey in 2022 might be their closest successful World Cup effort since 2010.
They are led by the ever-reliable Premier League striker Chris Wood. Other talents include Serie A bolter Liberato Cacace, Nix cult hero Ben Waine, and Sarpreet Singh, who finds himself still contracted to Bayern Munich.
Iconic names of the modern All Whites team include Wood, Singh, Cacace, and Reid. (SOPA Images)
But there are even familiar A-League players of recent times, too. Joey Champness has moved to Turkey after declaring for New Zealand, and Oliver Sail has more than made a respectable career after being an understudy at the Phoenix for many years. Both will make appearances in the initial stages.
This squad is talented, and there won't be another Horror of Honiara for as long as it is around. Their legacy (it's important to note that they also celebrate 100 years in 2022) may continue in the name of growth for their benefit and Australia's.
Ultimately, this team boils down to the growth of a system, a talented group of players, and an entire continent breathlessly waiting for the next stanza in this epic tale.
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