16 Nov 2009

No funding windfall after qualifying for World Cup

6:34 am on 16 November 2009

Government sports funding agency SPARC says New Zealand's qualification for the 2010 World Cup finals won't lead to any sudden funding windfall.

The All Whites beat Bahrain 1-nil on Saturday night in Wellington to become just the second New Zealand side to qualify for the world's biggest sporting event.

The win earns New Zealand Football more than $10 million.

SPARC contributed $200,000 towards the successful campaign and says it was money well spent.

However, its general manager for high performance sport, Marty Toomey, says with limited resources it does not make a habit of handing out funds to major teams.

Mr Toomey says with a big payday in store from Fifa, New Zealand Football can now look after itself, and the key now is for it to best spend the money so there is a legacy for future teams.

Fans celebrate

Tens of thousands of football fans have been celebrating after the win with the All Whites stars of Wellington's Christmas Parade on Sunday.

The only other time the All Whites have competed at a World Cup was in Spain in 1982.

Striker Rory Fallon scored the only goal of the match, heading home Leo Bertos's corner in the final minute of the first half at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Saturday night.

Bahrain had the chance to equalise in the second half when they were awarded a penalty, but New Zealand goalkeeper Mark Paston made the biggest save of his career in the 51st minute to seal All Whites' place in South Africa in June.

Fallon has been in goal-scoring form for his English club Plymouth Argyle and said he was confident he could find the back of the net for the All Whites.

Paston dived to his right to make the save, but says it was sheer luck and he guessed which way the ball would go.

Saturday's match was the second leg of the Asia-Oceania World Cup qualifier. The first leg in Manama, Bahrain, in October ended 0-0.

The win was the only satisfactory outcome for the All Whites, as a draw would have been enough for Bahrain to qualify.

Extra seats were brought into Westpac Stadium, enabling 35,500 fans to watch the game - the biggest crowd ever to attend a match in New Zealand.

All Whites captain Ryan Nelsen, who also plays for English premier league side Blackburn Rovers, says winning in front of a home crowd made achievement all the more special and an incredible experience.

Coach Ricki Herbert played in the 1982 game in Spain and will become the first New Zealander to play and coach at a World Cup. He says he always had faith that the All Whites would qualify.

"The players didn't deviate from the job, albeit tough at times. But we were confident; we've been confident all week ... so I'm delighted."

Prime Minister John Key says the All Whites did New Zealand proud in beating Bahrain. Mr Key, who is attending the APEC summit in Singapore, says the team has rekindled New Zealand's passion for soccer.

Deputy Prime Minister Bill English, who was at the game, says qualifying for the World Cup will be a huge boost for the sport financially and in terms of encouraging grassroots players.

Wellington City Council expected the event to bring about $7 million to the capital. Hotels were fully booked and Air New Zealand put on extra flights to the capital.