Narrow win gives NZ advantage - Solomon Star News

Narrow win gives NZ advantage

21 January 2015
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New Zealand notched up their fourth win at the OFC U-17 Championship today but it wasn’t an easy one as New Caledonia pushed them to the limits in their thrilling 5-4 victory.

Meanwhile, Fiji finally put themselves on the right side of a victory with a comprehensive 5-0 win over Cook Islands while Papua New Guinea had to rely on some second half heroics to earn their 5-0 victory over Samoa in the final Match Day 7 encounter.

New Zealand were given an early fright by their Caledonian opponents who sought an early goal, pressing high on the Kiwi’s backline and in particular keeper Michael Woud. After several close shaves at either end it was the New Caledonians who broke the deadlock in the 11th minute courtesy of a stunning Joseph Hnagone strike.

But true to form New Zealand stayed calm and in control, hitting back immediately as Logan Rogerson capitalised on a defender’s failure to clear. In the 18th minute he had his brace as a short corner was then played past two defenders before the striker finished beautifully.

Rogerson turned provider for New Zealand’s fourth, beating his man up the right flank then cutting a cross in to Connor Probert who fired past a helpless Patrick Nyikeine.

Things got a little confusing for spectators in the 39th minute when New Caledonia were awarded a penalty. Joris Kenon converted from the spot only for the referee to order a retake for encroachment from both teams. He again converted only this time the referee deemed New Caledonia to have encroached into the box again and no goal was awarded. A bit of lip from the New Zealand keeper during the encounter earned him a caution.

Just ahead of the whistle for half-time Woud could then only watch as a soft, by his usual standards, shot from Henri Boucheron spilled from his grasp and over the goal line as a consolation of sorts ahead of the break after they were denied their penalty.

Luke Johnson got on the score sheet in the second half as Probert delivered a perfect corner into the six-yard box to which Johnson leapt above the fray to head home. Three minutes later on the hour mark Rogerson marked his hat-trick with a tidy back post tap in to take New Zealand to a 5-3 lead.

When substitute Etienne Poanoui was dropped in the box by a clumsy challenge, New Caledonia had another penalty. Kenon was once again called on and for the third time whipped his effort past Woud, but it was the first time it added to their tally. Both sides had a couple more decent chances as the clock ticked down but it was clearly New Zealand’s day as they led 5-4 at the final whistle.

“It’s pretty difficult to sum up to be honest,” a relieved Figuiera said after the game.

“It certainly wasn’t a game for the defenders. But it’s easy to stand back after the game and say that was some fantastic football, some great goals and probably unbelievable for the fans to watch.

“We tried to defend as well as we could and we did look a little loose at times, as did they. But I think we overpowered them at the end of the day and created more chances than they did.”

For opposing coach Kamali Fitialeata there was plenty to say about the match, but he started with a nod to the Kiwis and their performance.

“Well firstly, congratulations to the New Zealand team, it’s a well-established team that I believe had greater hopes than us, that knows how to play their game. Then, the defeat, today we were a bit comfortable.

“There are a few things we’ll wait for the video to see because I don’t really understand what happened. But I’m very proud of my boys, they tried to be rigorous in carrying out the instructions we gave them, but there were one or two players who at times were little more than spectators in this match.”

Next up was Fiji versus Cook Islands, two sides smarting from 5-1 losses on Match Day 5 and hoping to pick up three points. Fiji dominated early possession and repeatedly tested their counterpart’s keeper Chrismagne Elikana with a number of on-target efforts. They eventually broke through in the 24th minute as Simeli Batiratu beat the offside trap to open the scoring.

Just over ten minutes later Fiji extended that lead as Muni Reddy was lurking at the far post to put a tidy finish past a diving Elikana. As the match entered the second period Cook Islands’ chances remained few and far between while their opponents continued to press. Batiratu got his second just on 59 minutes and could have had a hat-trick ten minutes later when he swung and missed a near perfect cross from Fazeem Khan. He finally got that long awaited third goal in the 77th minute before a 90th minute strike from substitute France Catarogo put Fiji five goals up at the final whistle.

Fiji co-coach Kamal Swamy was incredibly pleased to finally notch a decent win here in Apia.

“We were looking for this win and I think the boys played according to the game plan to get it,” he says.

“We could see a lot of possession and I think we played well from that back and that’s why we created chances and scored good goals.”

For Delaney Yaqona, once again it came down to individuals’ decision making letting the team down.

“Hats off to Fiji, they had opportunities and they put them away. We had some opportunities that would have kept us in the game but unfortunately we couldn’t finish it and that just told the story in the end,” he says.

“You look at the goals and it’s just players and decisions that they’re making in the games are just the wrong ones, and then the commitment from some of the boys just wasn’t there and that’s what’s letting the team down.

“I’ve always said that coming into the tournament, it’s a very young squad, and you can expect that from young boys. But they’ve had four games now, they’ve had experience at international level and it needs to happen, we can’t keep making excuses for it.”

The final encounter saw Group A hosts Samoa taking on Papua New Guinea. Samoa were still riding high from their historic win on Saturday, while their opponents were coming in with a point to prove after their 3-0 loss to the Kiwis.

From the outset the visitors dominated with driving runs into the box forcing the defenders to remain in a state of constant vigilance to try and cut them short before they reached the penalty area. A tough task that Samoa appeared up to, with some dangerous counter attacks of their being launched on occasion. Some excellent work from Bronson Lotu-i’iga in particular really kept his side in the game, holding the Papua New Guineans at bay to go into the break locked at 0-0.

A sub from either side in the 58th minute proved the interruption Papua New Guinea needed as Taase Hunt left his goal open as he came out to clear, allowing Oswald Bade to fire into an empty net. Less than five minutes had passed when Brendon Kambula was knocking the ball in.

Samoa did well to keep Papua New Guinea at bay, but clearly tiring the side wasn’t able to stem the flow for the full 90 minutes. Taase Hunt made a great save to deny Stahl Gubag but couldn’t do it twice as the latter fired home in the 87th minute. Oswald Bade ran one past Hunt next, just three minutes later, and on the 90 minute mark sealed the match courtesy of Freddy Tupani after Hunt again left his goal open for the taking.

Papua New Guinea assistant coach Hans Gewebing says it was a tough encounter that required a greater level of concentration than they employed in the first half.

“It was tough and we had to really ask the boys to dig deep and hopefully score in the second half. In the first half they broke the line of defence but couldn’t find the target so we had to really dig deep and find the target in the second half and it paid off.

“Having gone up 5-0 in the second half was awesome.”

It was an incredibly disappointing result after a heartening performance from Desmond Faai’uaso’s side.

“I’m very disappointed, but am still happy about the performance from my boys,” he says.

“Our counter attack was good but we didn’t finish the job. We came to get a good result but didn’t – I don’t know what else there is to say.”

New Zealand notched up their fourth win at the OFC U-17 Championship today but it wasn’t an easy one as New Caledonia pushed them to the limits in their thrilling 5-4 victory.

Meanwhile, Fiji finally put themselves on the right side of a victory with a comprehensive 5-0 win over Cook Islands while Papua New Guinea had to rely on some second half heroics to earn their 5-0 victory over Samoa in the final Match Day 7 encounter.

New Zealand were given an early fright by their Caledonian opponents who sought an early goal, pressing high on the Kiwi’s backline and in particular keeper Michael Woud. After several close shaves at either end it was the New Caledonians who broke the deadlock in the 11th minute courtesy of a stunning Joseph Hnagone strike.

But true to form New Zealand stayed calm and in control, hitting back immediately as Logan Rogerson capitalised on a defender’s failure to clear. In the 18th minute he had his brace as a short corner was then played past two defenders before the striker finished beautifully.

Rogerson turned provider for New Zealand’s fourth, beating his man up the right flank then cutting a cross in to Connor Probert who fired past a helpless Patrick Nyikeine.

Things got a little confusing for spectators in the 39th minute when New Caledonia were awarded a penalty. Joris Kenon converted from the spot only for the referee to order a retake for encroachment from both teams. He again converted only this time the referee deemed New Caledonia to have encroached into the box again and no goal was awarded. A bit of lip from the New Zealand keeper during the encounter earned him a caution.

Just ahead of the whistle for half-time Woud could then only watch as a soft, by his usual standards, shot from Henri Boucheron spilled from his grasp and over the goal line as a consolation of sorts ahead of the break after they were denied their penalty.

Luke Johnson got on the score sheet in the second half as Probert delivered a perfect corner into the six-yard box to which Johnson leapt above the fray to head home. Three minutes later on the hour mark Rogerson marked his hat-trick with a tidy back post tap in to take New Zealand to a 5-3 lead.

When substitute Etienne Poanoui was dropped in the box by a clumsy challenge, New Caledonia had another penalty. Kenon was once again called on and for the third time whipped his effort past Woud, but it was the first time it added to their tally. Both sides had a couple more decent chances as the clock ticked down but it was clearly New Zealand’s day as they led 5-4 at the final whistle.

“It’s pretty difficult to sum up to be honest,” a relieved Figuiera said after the game.

“It certainly wasn’t a game for the defenders. But it’s easy to stand back after the game and say that was some fantastic football, some great goals and probably unbelievable for the fans to watch.

“We tried to defend as well as we could and we did look a little loose at times, as did they. But I think we overpowered them at the end of the day and created more chances than they did.”

For opposing coach Kamali Fitialeata there was plenty to say about the match, but he started with a nod to the Kiwis and their performance.

“Well firstly, congratulations to the New Zealand team, it’s a well-established team that I believe had greater hopes than us, that knows how to play their game. Then, the defeat, today we were a bit comfortable.

“There are a few things we’ll wait for the video to see because I don’t really understand what happened. But I’m very proud of my boys, they tried to be rigorous in carrying out the instructions we gave them, but there were one or two players who at times were little more than spectators in this match.”

Next up was Fiji versus Cook Islands, two sides smarting from 5-1 losses on Match Day 5 and hoping to pick up three points. Fiji dominated early possession and repeatedly tested their counterpart’s keeper Chrismagne Elikana with a number of on-target efforts. They eventually broke through in the 24th minute as Simeli Batiratu beat the offside trap to open the scoring.

Just over ten minutes later Fiji extended that lead as Muni Reddy was lurking at the far post to put a tidy finish past a diving Elikana. As the match entered the second period Cook Islands’ chances remained few and far between while their opponents continued to press. Batiratu got his second just on 59 minutes and could have had a hat-trick ten minutes later when he swung and missed a near perfect cross from Fazeem Khan. He finally got that long awaited third goal in the 77th minute before a 90th minute strike from substitute France Catarogo put Fiji five goals up at the final whistle.

Fiji co-coach Kamal Swamy was incredibly pleased to finally notch a decent win here in Apia.

“We were looking for this win and I think the boys played according to the game plan to get it,” he says.

“We could see a lot of possession and I think we played well from that back and that’s why we created chances and scored good goals.”

For Delaney Yaqona, once again it came down to individuals’ decision making letting the team down.

“Hats off to Fiji, they had opportunities and they put them away. We had some opportunities that would have kept us in the game but unfortunately we couldn’t finish it and that just told the story in the end,” he says.

“You look at the goals and it’s just players and decisions that they’re making in the games are just the wrong ones, and then the commitment from some of the boys just wasn’t there and that’s what’s letting the team down.

“I’ve always said that coming into the tournament, it’s a very young squad, and you can expect that from young boys. But they’ve had four games now, they’ve had experience at international level and it needs to happen, we can’t keep making excuses for it.”

The final encounter saw Group A hosts Samoa taking on Papua New Guinea. Samoa were still riding high from their historic win on Saturday, while their opponents were coming in with a point to prove after their 3-0 loss to the Kiwis.

From the outset the visitors dominated with driving runs into the box forcing the defenders to remain in a state of constant vigilance to try and cut them short before they reached the penalty area. A tough task that Samoa appeared up to, with some dangerous counter attacks of their being launched on occasion. Some excellent work from Bronson Lotu-i’iga in particular really kept his side in the game, holding the Papua New Guineans at bay to go into the break locked at 0-0.

A sub from either side in the 58th minute proved the interruption Papua New Guinea needed as Taase Hunt left his goal open as he came out to clear, allowing Oswald Bade to fire into an empty net. Less than five minutes had passed when Brendon Kambula was knocking the ball in.

Samoa did well to keep Papua New Guinea at bay, but clearly tiring the side wasn’t able to stem the flow for the full 90 minutes. Taase Hunt made a great save to deny Stahl Gubag but couldn’t do it twice as the latter fired home in the 87th minute. Oswald Bade ran one past Hunt next, just three minutes later, and on the 90 minute mark sealed the match courtesy of Freddy Tupani after Hunt again left his goal open for the taking.

Papua New Guinea assistant coach Hans Gewebing says it was a tough encounter that required a greater level of concentration than they employed in the first half.

“It was tough and we had to really ask the boys to dig deep and hopefully score in the second half. In the first half they broke the line of defence but couldn’t find the target so we had to really dig deep and find the target in the second half and it paid off.

“Having gone up 5-0 in the second half was awesome.”

It was an incredibly disappointing result after a heartening performance from Desmond Faai’uaso’s side.

“I’m very disappointed, but am still happy about the performance from my boys,” he says.

“Our counter attack was good but we didn’t finish the job. We came to get a good result but didn’t – I don’t know what else there is to say.”

- OFC

 

 

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