New Zealand, with three ties in Group F, became only the fourth country in World Cup history to be eliminated in the first round without losing. The nation's prime minister, John
Key, deemed the performance heroic.
"They are a team that are going to come back to New Zealand as heroes in my view, it was always going to be a Herculean task to get through, in the end they didn’t quite make it on points but a result nevertheless that we can all be proud of,” Key told Radio New Zealand. “They threw everything at it. ... They showed they are a team with a lot of courage, they believe in each other, they’re disciplined."
The Kiwis, whose only previous World Cup appearance came in 1982, were given 1,500-1 odds to win the title by bookmakers. Only North Korea was considered such a long shot. But New Zealand managed ties against Paraguay, Slovakia and defending champion Italy.
"It would have been the bravest of souls that would have predicted that they would get a draw in every game, that they would get a point in every game and that they would end the table ahead of Italy,” said Key.