DOHA (Reuters) - New Zealand need more competitive football at a higher level if they are to raise the profile of the game in the rugby-mad nation, coach Danny Hay said after his side were eliminated in their World Cup playoff.

The Kiwis lost a controversial intercontinental playoff tie against Costa Rica in Doha despite dominating Tuesday's match.

It was their fourth successive playoff as winners of the Oceania confederation qualifiers but the third defeat in a row, following losses to Mexico ahead of 2014 finals and Peru for the last World Cup in Russia.

New Zealand were again Oceania winners in the 2022 preliminaries but played only five matches against small Pacific island nations.

"We need meaningful games at a higher level," Hay said. "It'

Football: Soccer-New Zealand need a better diet of competitive football-coach

DOHA (Reuters) – New Zealand need more competitive football at a higher level if they are to raise the profile of the game in the rugby-mad nation, coach Danny Hay said after his side were eliminated in their World Cup playoff.

The Kiwis lost a controversial intercontinental playoff tie against Costa Rica in Doha despite dominating Tuesday’s match.

It was their fourth successive playoff as winners of the Oceania confederation qualifiers but the third defeat in a row, following losses to Mexico ahead of 2014 finals and Peru for the last World Cup in Russia.

New Zealand were again Oceania winners in the 2022 preliminaries but played only five matches against small Pacific island nations.

“We need meaningful games at a higher level,” Hay said. “It’s difficult when we’re not getting consistent games that actually matter.

“It’s one thing us playing friendlies against quality opposition but games where you have that pressure element attached to them, where you have to win, I think that’s something that would be very nice for us to have on a regular basis.

“And I think it would bring far more profile for the game because one big game every four years isn’t enough,” he said.

Oceania have been guaranteed one slot in the expanded 48-team World Cup in North America in 2026 and, given New Zealand’s dominance of the region, they will be odds on favourites to reach the finals in four years’ time.

(Editing by Clarence Fernandez)



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