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All Whites through to Nations Cup semis with PNG win

HONIARA, SOLOMON ISLANDS – The All Whites have qualified for the semi finals of the OFC Nations Cup, and the next stage of World Cup qualifying, with a hard-fought 2-1 win over a tenacious Papua New Guinea in Honiara, Solomon Islands today.

Goalscorers SHane SMeltz and Chris Wood celebrate Wood's strike. photosport.co.nz

June 4, 2012

HONIARA, SOLOMON ISLANDS – The All Whites have qualified for the semi finals of the OFC Nations Cup, and the next stage of World Cup qualifying, with a hard-fought 2-1 win over a tenacious Papua New Guinea in Honiara, Solomon Islands today.

With Fiji and hosts Solomon Islands playing out a 0-0 draw in Group B’s other match, the All Whites are through to Thursday’s semi finals with a match – Wednesday’s clash against the hosts – to spare.

With a semi-final place confirmed, New Zealand are the first team to progress through to stage three of FIFA World Cup qualifying to be played between this tournament’s top four teams in September, October and March.

As they did in their opening win over Fiji, the All Whites took an early lead this time through Shane Smeltz who beat goalkeeper Leslie Kalai to Jeremy Brockie’s cross as the clock ticked over to two minutes played.

Again the All Whites threatened but couldn’t find a second goal to kill the game in the first half, although Chris Wood had the ball in the net after 23 minutes only to be ruled offside.

The mercury nudged 39 degrees at pitch level and New Zealand finally cooled their nerves eight minutes into the second half with a second goal. After defying the conditions to chase down a probing ball played into the right channel, Smeltz turned provider with a superb first time ball to tee up a clinical Chris Wood finish.

Smeltz hit the bar soon after and Wood had a header cleared off the line before his goal, but Papua New Guinea were a constant threat with Jake Gleeson – in for the injured Mark Paston – pulling off a trio of fine saves throughout the match and watching as a speculative Kema Jack volley sailed narrowly wide of the mark in the first 20 minutes.

A late handball from Tony Lochhead earned Papua New Guinea a penalty which substitute Neil Hans duly converted, and drew what appeared to be a second caution after a booking late in the first half. OFC officials later confirmed the two cautions, a retrospective red card and a one match suspension pending review by FIFA.

All Whites coach Ricki Herbert was happy to grind out another victory.
“We started well, got a good early goal which has been a trait of what we’ve done in this tournament.”

“But its tough going and hard to get through the 90 minutes, but again we can just recover and reorganise. We’ve got six points from six and we can move now into the game on Wednesday.

“I think it’s natural that we’ll acclimatise more as we progress, and that patch of dominance will extend for longer. Today was another draining one and you don’t get much of a turnaround before the next one. With the next kickoff at 3pm maybe that may be a little kinder on us.”

New Zealand’s semi final opponent will be decided tomorrow when Group A reaches its conclusion. Leaders Tahiti just need to avoid defeat against Vanuatu to confirm their spot while a win for New Caledonia over Samoa could confirm their place regardless of the other match’s result.

OFC Nations Cup / FIFA World Cup qualifying
New Zealand 2 (Shane SMELTZ 2’, Chris WOOD 53’)
Papue New Guinea 1 (Neil HANS pen 88’)
Halftime: 1-0

June 4, 2012
Lawson Tama Stadium
Honiara, Solomon Islands

New Zealand: 13-Jake GLEESON (GK), 3-Tony LOCHHEAD, 4-Ben SIGMUND (2-Tim MYERS 85’), 5-Tommy SMITH (captain), 8-Michael MCGLINCHEY, 9-Shane SMELTZ (22-Tim PAYNE 68’), 10-Chris KILLEN (18-Aaron CLAPHAM 58’), 15-Ivan VICELICH, 16-Jeremy BROCKIE, 17-Kosta BARBAROUSES, 20-Chris WOOD.
Substitutes not used: 1-Mark PASTON (RGK), 6-Ian HOGG, 7-Leo BERTOS, 11-Marco ROJAS, 12-Glen MOSS (RGK), 14-Rory FALLON, 19-Michael BOXALL, 21-Cameron HOWIESON, 23-Adam MCGEORGE.
Coach: Ricki HERBERT

Cautions: Tony LOCHHEAD 45’, 87;’ Aaron CLAPHAM 76’

Red cards: None

Papua New Guinea: 1-Leslie KALAI (GK), 2-Kila IARAVAI, 3-Valantine NELSON, 4-Daniel JOE, 6-Samuel KINI (14-Neil HANS 63’), 7-Raymond GUNEMBA (15-Jamal SEETO 62’), 8-Michael FOSTER, 9-Kema JACK, 12-David MUTA (captain), 18-Eric KOMENG (16-Jeremy YASASA 84’), 19-Koriak UPAIGA.
Substitutes not used: 5-Kelly JAMPU, 10-Reginald DAVANI, 11-Felix BONDALUKE, 13-Andrew LEPANI, 17-Mauri WASI, 20-Godfrey BANIAU (GK), 21-Ronald CONN , 22-Wira WAMA, 23-Paul KAWIK (GK)
Coach: Frank FARINA

Cautions: None

Standings

Group A

P

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

PTS

Tahiti

2

2

0

0

14

4

10

6

New Caledonia

2

1

0

1

8

6

2

3

Vanuatu

2

1

0

1

7

5

2

3

Samoa

2

0

0

2

1

15

-14

0

 

 

Group B

P

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

PTS

New Zealand

2

2

0

0

3

1

2

6

Solomon Islands

2

1

1

0

1

0

1

4

Fiji

2

0

1

1

0

1

-1

1

Papua New Guinea

2

0

0

2

1

3

-2

0

OFC Nations Cup / FIFA World Cup qualifying
2-10 June 2012
Lawson Tama Stadium
Honiara, Solomon Islands
Matches streamed online at www.oceaniafootball.com

New Zealand v Solomon Islands
June 6, 3pm (4pm NZT)

Semi finals
New Zealand v TBD
June 8, 11am or 3pm (12pm or 4pm)

Final
June 10, 3pm (4pm)

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