The main reason is that both those countries were in the Oceania group and therefore had to battle each other before getting to a two-game playoff with either a team from Asia or a team from South America.
Up until 2005, there had only been two times in the Cups' history that either team made it; 1974 in Germany for the Aussies and 1982 in Spain for the Kiwis. However, the goalposts got moved a little after Australia broke ranks from Oceania and were allowed to be included under Asia. This left the reputation of Oceania's incredible 2005/2006 (Australia's qualification and subsequent performance at the World Cup is one of Australia's greatest sporting memories) squarely on the shoulders of New Zealand's 'All Whites'.
They didn't disappoint.
Facing off against Bahrain, they were able to keep the score to 0-0 in the desert before the return leg in Wellington this weekend. It took a strong header from Rory Fallon and a brilliant performance by goalkeeper Mark Paston, but it was enough to send the Kiwis into a similar euphoria that Australian football had in 2005 after pipping Uruguay in a penalty shoot-out.
The hero of the night; keeper, Mark Paston, saves a penalty shot in the second half.
While the chances are pretty slim, I dream of being able to post an article called 'The (formerly known) Trans-Tasman Traveller presents a Trans-Tasman Battle!'...we can only wait until the draw is done I guess. One thing is for sure though; if Australia were the underdogs in 2006, New Zealand will have that title this time around.