Story: Football

New Zealand plays Australia, 1981

Footballers collected in front of a goal during a football game. A goalkeeper leaps to catch the ball while another jumps to head it.

In 1981 and early 1982 New Zealand played 15 games on their way to qualifying for the 1982 FIFA World Cup. The journey began with this game against Australia at Mt Smart, Auckland, on Anzac Day 1981. Here, the Australian goalkeeper catches a cross as Ricki Herbert attempts to head the ball. The two teams drew 3–3. In the return match, New Zealand beat Australia 2–0 in Sydney. Five wins and a draw against the other teams in the group – Taiwan, Fiji and Indonesia – ensured that New Zealand qualified for the second round. In that round they ended equal on points and goal difference with China and had to beat them in a sudden-death game to qualify. They did so in Singapore in January 1982, winning 2–1. In the match shown here, New Zealand played in white shirts and black shorts, but subsequently they wore white shorts and came to be known as the 'All Whites' in a reference to the New Zealand national rugby team, the All Blacks. 

Using this item

Reference: 250481
Photograph by Anthony Phelps

This item has been provided for private study purposes (such as school projects, family and local history research) and any published reproduction (print or electronic) may infringe copyright law. It is the responsibility of the user of any material to obtain clearance from the copyright holder.

All images & media in this story

How to cite this page:

Neill Atkinson, Steve Watters and Alida Shanks, 'Football - Men’s international football', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 24 June 2024)

Story by Neill Atkinson, Steve Watters and Alida Shanks, published 5 Sep 2013, reviewed & revised 7 Jun 2023 with assistance from Alida Shanks