Kiwi stars still riding high

All-Whites Shane Smeltz and Michael McGlinchey can still hardly believe that they helped New Zealand qualify for its second-ever FIFA World Cup.

All-Whites Shane Smeltz and Michael McGlinchey can still hardly believe that they helped New Zealand qualify for its second-ever FIFA World Cup.

The amazing feat might have already been achieved three days ago, but the pair are still coming to terms with the monumental victory against Bahrain that will ensure their country mixes it with the best the world has to offer in South Africa next year.

Smeltz compared New Zealand's qualification to when Australia did the same thing in the lead-up to the 2006 World Cup when it defeated Uruguay in a play-off which was decided by penalties - ending the country's 32-year drought on the sport's big stage in the process.

"It was similar (to Australia's 2006 campaign)," said Smeltz who returned to training with A-League club Gold Coast United on Tuesday.

"The whole country was over the moon that we managed to get through and the feeling of having actually qualified for the World Cup is hard to describe or put into words."

"It's a massive achievement that hasn't really fully sunk in yet. A few days have passed since the game itself and we've had that time to think about it, but I guess it will be on our minds for quite a while yet."

"The excitement we all felt was unbelievable so I can only imagine what it will be like leading up to the tournament itself."

"Bahrain have been in that situation before and they were as desperate as we were to get through. But we were on our home turf with a massive crowd behind us and the whole country was supporting us. The place was buzzing."

"We are just grateful that we got the right result because it's huge for football in New Zealand."

McGlinchey also resumed club duties with the Central Coast Mariners on Tuesday and the 28-year-old said the overriding feeling was relief in the wake of the All-Whites' triumph.

“I just can-t quite get it out of my head that we-re going to the World Cup," said the former Celtic midfielder.

"I keep thinking there must be another hurdle or something, it's taking quite a while to sink in."

McGlinchey said the second leg of the play-off against Bahrain in Wellington produced the best atmosphere he has ever experienced and declared it the biggest game of his career - including his Scottish Premier League debut as a 17-year-old at Celtic Park.

“It was surreal to walk out there and hear the noise, it was such a big occasion and to get a start I was delighted," he said.

"That was the best atmosphere, and the biggest game I-ve ever played in. There was so much riding on the game."

“If you lost, you were sick, but to get the win was just unbelievable."

“I-m just looking forward to going to the World Cup now."