Asia-Pacific

New Zealand joy over World Cup result

New Zealand is celebrating its best ever football result, having held the World Cup holders Italy to a 1-1 draw.

Coach Ricky Herbert said it had stopped the nation, while Prime Minister John Key, at the match, said his country had stunned the football world.

Reuters has put the result in its top 10 World Cup shocks, the only draw to be included on the list.

New Zealand is a rugby country; the national team, the All Blacks, enjoy an almost quasi-religious following.

But it is the little-known football team, the All Whites, which are now bringing joy to this South Pacific nation after drawing 1-1 with Italy.

New Zealand has just 25 professional players and four of its squad are from a local amateur league.

They have taken the field in just four World Cup finals - Italy have won the tournament four times - but New Zealand still managed to earn a draw.

'Everest moment'

Prime Minister John Key has led the celebrations, donning a white shirt and appearing on the pitch after the game with his arms held aloft.

He called the result sensational, incredible and thought it might even justify a national holiday.

New Zealand is unbeaten in the competition, and the All Whites are upstaging their more celebrated footballing neighbours, the Australian Socceroos, who have struggled in the tournament.

When New Zealand drew its first game against Slovakia - another upset - the Sydney Morning Herald jokingly headlined its report: "Australasia 1 Slovakia 1".

One of the All Whites former coaches likened the draw against Italy to the moment in 1953 when the New Zealander Edmund Hillary was part of the first expedition to climb Mount Everest.

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