Furious coach slams 'atrocious' officials after Kiwis' World Cup heartbreak

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·Sports Reporter
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New Zealand coach Danny Hay has slammed the referee in his side's 1-0 World Cup qualifier loss to Costa Rica after two crucial review decisions went against the Kiwis. Pictures: Getty Images
New Zealand coach Danny Hay has slammed the referee in his side's 1-0 World Cup qualifier loss to Costa Rica after two crucial review decisions went against the Kiwis. Pictures: Getty Images

New Zealand have complained about the standard of officiating in their heartbreaking World Cup qualifier loss to Costa Rica in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Costa Rica booked their ticket to the World Cup in Qatar thanks to a controversial 1-0 win over the All Whites, bolstered by two dubious VAR decisions that went against the Kiwis.

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Speaking bluntly after the match, All Whites coach Danny Hay labelled referee Mohammed Abdulla's performance 'atrocious' and slammed FIFA for allowing an inexperienced referee to officiate such an important fixture.

Wednesday morning's loss marks the third time in a row New Zealand have fallen at the final hurdle to qualify for the World Cup, after losing play-offs to Mexico and Peru in their past two World Cup cycles.

It was a devastating result for the Kiwis, who missed out on the chance for an equaliser after Abdulla ruled out Chris Wood's strike for a foul in the build-up.

Just three minutes into the match Costa Rica found the back of the net through former Aresnal striker Joel Campbell, though the Kiwis dominated the ball thereafter.

Already frustrated at half-time having been robbed of their equalising goal, New Zealand's patience was razor-thin after Abdulla sent off substitute Kosta Barbarouses for a challenge on Francisco Calvo.

The United Arab Emirates' official had originally booked Barbarouses for the challenge but changed his decision after once more viewing a replay pitchside.

Hay was furious after the match, and said there had been a stark difference in the quality of officiating between their game and the previous night's clash between Australia and Peru.

"I thought some of the officiating at times was absolutely atrocious. People can make their own mind up about that," Hay said.

"When we saw the announcement and then we looked at what Australia and Peru had last night with good quality European officiating, I thought FIFA have made a mistake there in such an important game.

"I think they've let us down by putting somebody in charge that clearly has not officiated at this sort of level."

New Zealand heartbreak after World Cup qualifiers loss

Wood twice created opportunities for youngsters Matthew Garbett and Alex Greive but both squandered the chances.

Newcastle United striker Wood forced Costa Rica captain Keylor Navas into a double-save moments later but it wasn't until the 39th minute when the big New Zealand forward thought he had scored.

Wood steered a Garbett cross passed Navas after it eluded the Costa Rican defence but Abdullah ruled Garbett had committed a foul winning the ball back before his cross.

Costa Rica made a triple change at half-time, bringing on ex-Fulham midfielder Bryan Ruiz, but New Zealand were still dominating the possession, shots and territory.

New Zealand were on the wrong end of two controversial referee decisions which ultimately contributed to their loss to Costa Rica. (Photo by KARIM JAAFAR/AFP via Getty Images)
New Zealand were on the wrong end of two controversial referee decisions which ultimately contributed to their loss to Costa Rica. (Photo by KARIM JAAFAR/AFP via Getty Images)

Even after Barbarouses' 69th-minute dismissal, New Zealand pressed for a goal with Clayton Lewis's long-range effort in the 76th minute forcing a smart diving save from Navas.

"It's obviously hurting players at the moment but I thought we were by far the better team," Hay said.

"I don't even think that was in question.

"There was one team dominating. One team trying to play good quality football. One team trying to create chances and that was us."

Costa Rica's qualification completes the full 32-nation line-up for November's World Cup with Los Ticos to be in Group E alongside European heavyweights Spain and Germany as well as Japan in Qatar.

With AAP

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