Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
San Jose's Elliott on long, interesting path toward World Cup
by Ridge Mahoney, October 9th, 2009 4:45PM
Subscribe to Soccer America Confidential

MOST READ

MOST COMMENTED

International travel is a luxury for most people, so when players who must cross time zones and continents to play for their clubs or national teams complain about fatigue and jet lag they don't always generate a lot of sympathy.

For a player like the San Jose Earthquakes' Simon Elliott, the relatively short hops taken by most MLS players to Concacaf nations are the luxury trips.

During his professional career in the United States and England Elliott's traveled extensively for New Zealand, which as a member of the Oceania confederation requires not only arduous flights of more than a dozen hours and many thousands of miles, but adapting to severely different conditions upon arrival.

"It's up there, but we've had a few," says Elliott, 35, and capped 62 times for the national team that plays at Bahrain on Saturday. "With New Zealand you get to go to some interesting places.

"Bahrain will be up there as far as the exotic nature of the place. It's still a kingdom, so you have one guy who kind of rules the roost. And I'm sure they'll be motivated to do well. Maybe the king will have something to offer, so there'll be everything to play for."

Archrival Australia, which for decades usually blocked New Zealand's path to the World Cup and other competitions through the Oceania corridor, moved to the Asian confederation several years ago and will head to South Africa as one of four Asian representatives. A fifth, Bahrain, knocked off Saudi Arabia in a two-game playoff to set up yet another playoff with a World Cup spot at stake.

The opponent? New Zealand, which Bahrain hosts in Manama. Though the Kiwis play in the Oceania confederation in official competitions at the senior level, they also play many members of the Asian confederation in friendlies and regional tournaments. So though he's never been to Bahrain, Elliott has visited a few of its neighbors.

"Lebanon was a good one," says Elliott. "You'd go down the street and half the buildings were just rubble and there were tanks everywhere. Going into Saudi Arabia was interesting, because that's kind of a closed kingdom. It took us about 17 ½ hours to get through customs, they looked through every bag and every nook and cranny. And then in our part of the world, places like Papau New Guinea are a little different to what perhaps you and I are used to."

After playing for San Jose last weekend, Elliott flew to Dubai for a training camp, where he met up with former D.C. United defender Ryan Nelsen, who plays in the English Premier League with Blackburn and like Elliott played college soccer at Stanford, and former UC Santa Barbara defender Tony Lochhead, a member of the Wellington Phoenix, which plays in Australia's pro league.

"It's nice to get back and see the guys, because we don't see each other that often," says Elliott of a squad that beat Jordan, 3-1, in a friendly last month after losing to Spain and South Africa and tying Iraq, 0-0, in the Confederations Cup. "It's a good little atmosphere in the last three or four years, so hopefully that holds us in good stead."

New Zealand is coached by Ricki Herbert, a member of the Kiwi team that qualified for the 1982 World Cup, its only appearance to date. Nelsen missed the Confederations Cup because of injury but has been training in Dubai and is expected to take the field when the teams meet in the first leg Saturday (11:30 a.m. ET, Fox Soccer Channel) for a chance to join its archrival next summer in the World Cup. The second leg is Nov. 14 in Wellington.

"They're a deeper side and they've been a better side, and I think for some of the New Zealand guys they've had kind of a mental block in the past about playing Australia for some reason," says Elliott, who played every minute at the Confederations Cup. "It's nice to go a different route. I think guys are confident about how the team's been doing the last couple of years and we've certainly had enough games this year against quality opposition so we should be well-prepared."

 



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Confidential
Michael Bradley: USA prepared 'to tilt the bar in our favor' early against Honduras    
As they train in San Jose for a crucial Hexagonal match against Honduras on Friday, the ...
Next move for Real Salt Lake is the most crucial in a decade    
The history of RSL is one of remarkable stability -- just three head coaches since starting ...
U.S. roster announcement: Bruce Arena's return marked by a singleness of purpose    
Multiply the left-back debate with a few more positions each with several candidates and you'll have ...
Quakes encouraged but not giddy after impressive opener    
Four seasons without playoffs has left the fervent fans in San Jose discouraged, but a ray ...
MLS 1-22: Ranking the teams on the eve of a new season    
Eight different teams have played in the last four MLS Cup finals and last year, 2015 ...
Random thoughts as the MLS season draws near    
The 2017 MLS season starts next Friday, March 3, more than a month earlier than the ...
Walker Zimmerman joins the U.S. centerback pool with solid performance    
Two FC Dallas centerbacks were summoned to the first U.S, camp of 2017 and after Matt ...
Rare USA golazo inspires some hope    
One swallow doesn't make a summer, but the USA delivered something impressive with its goal in ...
Greg Garza, soccer wanderer, finds place to start anew, again    
A long voyage to several continents has led U.S. international Greg Garza to the MLS startup ...
With first Arena game out of the way, U.S. players can re-focus on task at hand    
The message going forward for the U.S, team after it opened 2017 by tying Serbia 0-0 ...
>> Soccer America Confidential Archives