September 11, 2012
AUCKLAND – The All Whites are in pole position in the race to grab Oceania's spot in an intercontinental playoff for a place at the 2014 FIFA World Cup after a comprehensive 6-1 win over Solomon Islands at a cold and wet North Harbour Stadium on Tuesday night.
Goals to Shane Smeltz, Kosta Barbarouses, Chris Killen, Tony Lochhead, Chris Wood and Marco Rojas made it back to back wins in the opening match window for stage three of Oceania qualifying and gave New Zealand a valuable three point lead a third of the way through this phase.
The Solomons lie in second place on three points and could be joined by either Tahiti or New Caledonia when those two teams meet tomorrow night in Papeete at 6pm (NZT) in the last of 40 FIFA World Cup qualifiers happening around the globe in a 24 hour period.
The clinical performance was the biggest win of Ricki Herbert’s 50 match tenure and could have been larger with another Killen effort ruled out for a foul and another shot from the veteran front man rattling the cross bar, while Winston Reid and Mike McGlinchey also went close.
Just as he in did in Noumea three days ago, Smeltz gave the All Whites a 12th minute lead when he met a Leo Bertos cross with a left foot volley.
Smeltz's 22nd 'A' international goal drew him level with Steve Sumner on the All Whites goal scorers list with only Vaughan Coveny's tally of 28 sitting above him.
Barbarouses broke the offside trap in the 25th minute and showed great poise to round the ambitiously advancing keeper, cut back inside and finish between two defenders into an empty net.
Henry Fa'arodo’s classy swept finish from Leslie Nate’s fiercely driven cross gave the visitors some hope at 2-1 in the 51st minute but Killen’s powerful header restored the two goal cushion just two minutes later.
Tony Lochhead netted his first international goal when replacement goalkeeper Paul Huia – on after Killen's robust challenge on Samson Koti eventually ruled the starter out in the first half – could only parry a shot into the fullback-cum-midfielder's path.
Substitute Chris Wood added his seventh goal in six games with a cleverly chested effort in the 80th minute and Marco Rojas rounded off the win with a goal from his first touch seven minutes from time.
Herbert was quick to deflect the personal milestone of his 50th international, focusing instead on one of his side’s most complete performances in difficult conditions.
"I think the three points were crucial. I thought we were very professional and I think right from the whistle we went about our work very well and dominated for long periods," Herbert said.
"There were a lot of very good performances tonight. We showed good strength, depth and quality."
"It was nice to make a bit of a statement," added All Whites skipper Ryan Nelsen.
"We’re serious about this. It's part of growing as a team. No matter who you play against it’s about improving as a team, finding combinations and stepping up. We’ve got some options now."
"Yes, we’ve made a statement but looking at it selfishly we're trying to find our best team."
Next up on the road to Brazil, the All Whites next take on Tahiti twice in October; away on the 12th and home in Christchurch on the 16th, a match which will not only be Nelsen's 50th international but also his first in his home town.
"It would be amazing to get the 50th in Christchurch, it be just great to actually play there. Christchurch is where I was born and raised and I don't think I've ever played there, so it would be lovely to go down there and play that game."
2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil – Oceania Stage 3 Qualifying Standings
FIFA World Cup 2014 Qualifiers Stage 3
Match Day 2
Tuesday 11 September, 2012
North Harbour Stadium, Auckland
New Zealand 6 (Shane SMELTZ 12', Kosta BARBAROUSES 25', Chris KILLEN 53', Tony LOCHHEAD 69', Chris WOOD 80', Marco ROJAS 83')
Solomon Islands 1 (Henry FA’ARODO 51’)
New Zealand: 1-Mark PASTON (GK), 2-Winston REID, 3-Tony LOCHHEAD, 5-Tommy SMITH, 6-Ryan NELSEN (captain / 4-Ben SIGMUND 73'), 7-Leo BERTOS, 8-Michael MCGLINCHEY, 9-Shane SMELTZ (20-Chris WOOD 73'), 10-Chris KILLEN, 15-Ivan VICELICH (11-Marco ROJAS 82'), 17-Kosta BARBAROUSES.
Substitutes not used: 12-Glen MOSS (RGK), 13-Dan KEAT, 16-Jeremy BROCKIE, 18-Tim PAYNE, 19-Michael BOXALL.
Coach: Ricki HERBERT
Cautions: Chris WOOD 85'
Solomon Islands: 1-Samson KOTI (GK / 20-Paul HUIA 43'), 2-Hardies AENGARI, 3-Nelson SALE KILIFA, 4-Tome FAISI, 5-Freddie KINI, 6-Leslie NATE, 7-Henry FA'ARODO (captain), 8-Jeffery BULE, 9-Benjamin TOTORI, 12-Gagame FENI (16-Himson TELEDA 54'), 14-Joses NAWO.
Substitutes not used: 10-Joe LUWI, 11-Ian PAIA, 13-Joachim WAROI, 15-Jack WETNEY, 17-Paul HIRI, 18-Seni NGAVA, 19-Loni GARABA, 21-Emmanuel POILA, 22-Willie LAMANI, 23-Phillip MANGO (RGK).
Coach: Jacob MOLI