Whangarei schoolteacher Peter O’Leary has been selected to referee today’s group F game between Nigeria and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
O’Leary, the head of biology at Tikipunga High School, becomes just the second New Zealander to control a World Cup game.
“Peter rang me as soon as he got the news yesterday,” said NZ Football’s referee development manager Ken Wallace.
O’Leary referees in the A-League and has been part of Fifa’s programme since 2010. He copes with mistakes by using the “dump and forget” method.
Wallace had no doubt O’Leary was up to the job.
“Peter’s done under-20 World Cups, the London Olympics and the Club World Cup,” Wallace said.
“He’s performed well and he was at the last World Cup as a reserve so he’s got experience of the atmosphere and procedures. If they do well they will get the chance of doing another game.”
He officiated the match between Nigeria U-20 and Costa Rica in Canada 2007 on July 1. The match was played at Royal Athletic Park, Victoria with an attendance of 11, 500. Nigeria won courtesy a lone goal in the 75 minute by Brown Ideye, a player Coach Stephen Keshi dropped from Brazil 2014 World Cup Squad.
Both Nigeria and Bosnia will be desperate for points. Nigeria played out a scoreless draw with Iran in their opening match, while World Cup debutantes Bosnia were impressive but ultimately losers, falling 2-1 against perennial heavyweights Argentina.
The man in the middle: Facts
Peter O’Leary (born 3 March 1972) is a New Zealand Association football referee, previously of Wellington but now residing and working in Whangarei. He operates in the Australian A-League and the New Zealand Football Championship, and his other occupation is as a secondary school biology teacher.
He first took up refereeing in 1994. He has officiated in many Oceania Football Confederation tournaments since becoming a FIFA referee in 2003, notably the OFC Nations Cup in 2004, and the Oceania Club Championship in 2006.
In 2007, he was selected to officiate at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Canada during June and July of that year. He took charge of the Group F game between Nigeria and Costa Rica at the Royal Athletic Park in Victoria, British Columbia, on 1 July. He was then assigned the Group B match between Uruguay and Jordan at the Swangard Stadium in Burnaby, on 4 July. At the English Premiership tie between Aston Villa and Sunderland F.C. as a guest of top English referee Steve Bennett, O’Leary was summoned from the stands to assume Bennett’s role on the touchline as 4th official for the second half of the match.
READ FACTS ABOUT THE MATCH HERE