Home Live trainings ‘Today’s winning team’: Why the All Whites finish training with intense internal games

‘Today’s winning team’: Why the All Whites finish training with intense internal games

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Today’s winning team in training.

New Zealand football has shared variations on this post on social networks several times over the past nine months since the All Whites returned to action after a nearly two-year wait to try and clinch a World Cup berth for the third time.

But what does that actually mean?

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The All Whites trained in Marbella, southern Spain, ahead of their friendlies against Peru and Oman and their World Cup qualifiers against Peru.

There’s an extent to which this is obvious – the All Whites play games in training and there’s a winning team at the end, and that produces content for the NZ Football media team to share.

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But how do they fit into the bigger picture of what coach Danny Hay is trying to do, as he prepares his charges for their one-off World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica in Qatar this week [kickoff 6am Wednesday NZ time]?

Before flying to Spain, where the team began preparations at the end of May, he explained how he felt in the small-scale games, which mark the end of training on a regular basis.

There are usually rules attached like a maximum number of touches, or how many passes there must be before a goal is scored, and jokes often fly.

“Having been a player, ultimately you want to play,” Hay says.

“It doesn’t matter if you are 5, 15 or 25, you want to play.

“It gives us the ability to be super competitive at the end of a training session and drive that competitive spirit and nothing teaches the game like the game itself.

“We can do all the build-up play and all the defensive form work that we like, which is important and necessary, but really what do the players like the most?

“That’s what they like. They like that ability to play and play with freedom and express themselves and I think that helps drive the intensity.

“When the players know it’s coming at the end of training, they look forward to it and they end training with a little smile on their face – win, lose or draw.”

The word that stands out there is intensity, as a week ago the All Whites were reminded of just how intense serious football matches can be, particularly compared to behind-closed-doors friendlies and the Champions League play-offs. the Oceania World Cup on neutral ground who have made up their list of fixtures lately.

They received a wake-up call in their 1-0 loss to Peru, especially in the first half of that match at Barcelona, ​​and it reinforced the importance of doing things intensely, which Hay remembers having chatted with former All Blacks manager Wayne Smith, now the Black Ferns’ director of rugby.

“I remember talking to him at length when I first took the job, and he talked to me, even when he went to Kobelco Steelers in Japan, about the level of intensity with which they were training.

“Sometimes as late as a Thursday, when they have a game on Saturday, it’s super intense.

“I firmly believe in it. I think the players thrive there too. They like it.

“The reality is that when we are leading an international match, the whole session is certainly not very intense, because it cannot be.

“A lot of the build work and non-possession form work lacks intensity, but we make sure there’s always an intense element to it and that often comes in the form of small-scale play. “

The photos have become something of a ritual – a way for the team to connect with their long-suffering local fans, who will finally end a 1,700-day wait for a home game later this year, when the Socceroos Australians will come to Eden Park.

In the meantime, social media helps to establish a connection – and can even set up a bit of a guessing game.

The photo of the winning team that was posted on March 16, ahead of the Oceania World Cup qualifying tournament, has online football obsessives wondering: who was it in the front row on the right? , almost out of frame?

The winning team from training in Doha on March 17 featured an unfamiliar face in the lower right - All Whites staff member Wade Molony.

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The winning team from training in Doha on March 17 featured an unfamiliar face in the lower right – All Whites staff member Wade Molony.

Given the nature of the tournament, where Hay had to put together an extended squad to take into account that he started before the international window where clubs had to release players, it was acceptable to wonder if he had called a unknown player, possibly someone whose connection to New Zealand had just been discovered.

The reality was less exciting – it was New Zealand men’s national football team co-ordinator Wade Molony, who plays for Western Springs in the Northern league, ensuring there were even numbers. He’s no fool, having already scored a domestic league hat-trick at North Harbor Stadium, but it’s unclear if he’s ever compared his notes with Chris Wood, who once did it at the same venue for the All Whites .