21 Nov 2013

All Whites' World Cup dream over

6:11 am on 21 November 2013

Any slim hope the All Whites had of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil ended on Wednesday, beaten 4-2 by Mexico.

The 35,000-strong crowd at Wellington's Westpac Stadium turned up dreaming of a miracle on Wednesday night, but simply hoping for a much improved and more competitive effort from the New Zealand side in the wake of their 5-1 loss in Mexico City last week.

All Whites coach Ricky Herbert opted for a more attacking line-up and formation as he tried to overcome the four-goal deficit.

But 13 minutes into the first half, Oribe Peralta silenced the home crowd to open the scoring. By halftime, he had added another two goals and Mexico were ahead 3-nil.

The All Whites finally came to life with 10 minutes to go. Chris James' penalty made it 3-1 and Rory Fallon followed that up a couple of minutes later, making it 3-2.

But Carlos Pena replied with Mexico's fourth goal and Ricky Herbert's eight-year tenure as the national coach was at an end.

The All Whites had to win by at least four goals to qualify for next year's tournament.

Earlier, many fans gathered at the waterfront and in bars and restaurants to watch the game. A Radio New Zealand reporter in Wellington said Mexico fans were confident, while All Whites supporters were at least pleased at the chance of seeing top-level football.

The Hospitality Association estimated that 17,000 visitors were in the capital for the game and accommodation has been almost booked out for the past two weeks.

Wellington City Council organised a fan trail along the waterfront with a parade leaving the TSB Bank Arena at Queen's Wharf at 5.30pm.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said the promise of a spectacular game as well as entertainment along the waterfront would create a wonderful occasion for fans.