'Sticky' pitch bogs down the All Whites' flow

TONY SMITH
Last updated 05:00 18/10/2012

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The All Whites gave the atmosphere at AMI Stadium a big tick, but felt the "sticky" turf prevented them playing a free-flowing game against Tahiti.

Defender Ben Sigmund - who was playing his first All Whites game in Christchurch, his hometown - said the 10,751-strong crowd were "fantastic and right into it".

"What they've done here with the stadium is great. You can almost touch the crowd and you can hear everything that's said.

"When it's your crowd, it's even better."

But Sigmund, skipper Ryan Nelsen and two-goal hero Michael McGlinchey said the surface made the ball difficult to shift quickly along the pitch.

"It was very hard to play on," Sigmund said. "You couldn't get it out of your feet.

"People like [wingers] Kosta Barbarouses and Marco [Rojas], that's what they're really good at but they couldn't get their rhythm. It was frustrating ..."

McGlinchey, New Zealand's midfield playmaker, said the pitch was "quite sticky" and the All Whites tried to "adjust to getting the ball out of their feet and moving it".

"It was quite difficult at times but it was the same for both teams, so there's not too much complaining."

Nelsen said the pitch was like "glue".

"It was very sticky, [with a] very tennis ball-type bounce," he said.

"You get it a lot of times when it gets really dry and isn't watered and it's a certain length.

"You get it when you play on rugby-type fields.

"It gets caught under your feet a lot and unfortunately it probably hindered the style we wanted to play.

"Obviously, we knew [Tahiti] were coming to be aggressive and we wanted to be able to pass through them. But it was kind of fuelling their fire because we couldn't get out of our feet properly and we couldn't get a touch. You always felt it was right on top of you.

"So we kind of had to go back to front a bit quicker to bypass their aggressiveness. That was the conditions and I think it evened out the teams a lot."

Nelsen also praised the crowd and said he wanted to thank the "passionate" Canterbury football public for turning out to support the All Whites.

The stadium hosted a national provincial premiership rugby match, between Canterbury and Bay of Plenty, two days before the All Whites' international. 

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