Is It Smart to Bet on New Zealand Qualifying for World Cup 2022?

For fans of the All Whites, the last two years have seemed interminably long. The last time the New Zealand men’s national football team stepped out on a pitch to contest a competitive game was July 2019, while global events mean that only two friendlies have been played since. It’s to be expected that when they do regroup, they may be a little rusty, to say the least.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) have been forced to delay the qualifying tournament for next year’s World Cup several times already. Nonetheless, New Zealand should still be confident of topping the OFC group with ease – so does it make sense to visit your favourite sportsbook and lay a wager on the All Whites going all the way to Qatar?

A strong pedigree

In terms of the other teams in their Confederation, New Zealand should not fear anyone. Indeed, since Australia’s departure from the OFC in 2006, they have never failed to top the group. They are also the only remaining OFC member to have reached the World Cup in the past, qualifying for the 1982 and 2010 editions.

Although they failed to progress from the Group Stage both times, they achieved the impressive feat of remaining undefeated throughout the whole of the 2010 World Cup. With three draws to their name – including a very respectable 1-1 against reigning champions Italy – they gave an admirable account of themselves and have been itching to return ever since.

The first part of that journey should pose no problems, then, with the likes of the Solomon Islands, New Caledonia and Tahiti providing the stiffest opposition. New Zealand’s ranking is 111 according to FIFA, while their closest competitor is almost 30 places further down the pecking order. Triumph among the OFC contingent should be all but a formality.

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The degree of uncertainty

However, the cruel mistress that is FIFA has dictated that the OFC grouping is only allocated 0.5 of a spot at the World Cup Finals. That means that even after winning a round robin competition, a semi-final and a final, the victor must still face off against a qualifier from another Confederation.

That will either be the play-off winner from the AFC, the fourth-placed team in the CONCACAF section or the fifth-placed side from CONMEBOL. While there are still several games to play before the identity of those teams will be confirmed, it could include the likes of Oman, Japan or the UAE from Asia; Canada, Panama, Costa Rica or Jamaica from North America and Colombia, Uruguay or Chile from South America.

Of course, there are teams there which New Zealand should fancy their chances against and others which will pose a more difficult challenge. As such, much will rest on the luck of the draw – but having lost the last two play-offs to Mexico and Peru, respectively, the All Whites might feel they have a point to prove this time around.

With the rub of the green and no little amount of application from the players on the pitch, there’s no reason that New Zealand can’t make an appearance in Qatar in around 12 months’ time.

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