March 27, 2013
AUCKLAND – New Zealand accounted for the hosts 4-0 in emphatic style in the winner-takes-all clash on the penultimate match day of the OFC U-20 Championship.
Fiji was reduced to ten men with 30 minutes to play and the Junior All Whites leading 1-0 courtesy of a penalty to Louis Fenton. New Zealand further capitalised through Cameron Howieson, Hamish Watson and Ryan Thomas.
"It was a polished, professional performance from us today," said a jubilant Junior All Whites coach Chris Milicich after the match, "the boys stuck to the game plan, kept the ball for long periods of time and frustrated Fiji."
After a goalless first half the match burst into life when Louis Fenton tucked home his second penalty of the tournament after Ryan Thomas was brought down three minutes after the interval.
Ten minutes later the hosts were reduced to 10-men when Napolioni Qasevakatini picked up two yellow cards in the space of three minutes and was given his marching orders.
"Once they went down a man we just shifted the ball and the gaps started to appear," said Milicich.
New Zealand capitalised on the numerical advantage to kill the game off, firstly through All Whites utility Cameron Howieson, whose lofted free kick was misjudged by Fijian 'keeper Senirusi Bokini and dropped under the crossbar in the 67th minute.
Two minutes later Team Wellington striker Hamish Watson sealed the win when he turned home a Thomas cross from inside the penalty area. Thomas got himself on the score sheet seven minutes from time capping off a fine individual performance.
The OFC U-20 Championship concludes on Friday when Fiji play Papua New Guinea and New Caledonia square off against Vanuatu, New Zealand has the bye on the final match day and will return home early.
Milicich's attention will now shift to preparations for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey in June with the draw conducted over the weekend.
"It's an interesting draw with some seriously good teams," said Milicich, who led the Junior All Whites to the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Colombia two years ago.
New Zealand is set to take on Uzbekistan, Uruguay and Croatia in group play in less than three months time.
OFC U-20 Championship | Fiji 2013
Match day three
At Churchill Park, Lautoka
New Zealand 4 (Louis Fenton 48’ pen; Cameron Howieson 67’; Hamish Watson 69’; Ryan Thomas 83’)
Red card: Napolioni Qasevakatini (Fiji) 58’
Junior All Whites: 20-Max CROCOMBE (gk), 2-Storm ROUX, 3-Bill TUILOMA, 4-Simon ARMS, 5-Luke ADAMS (captain), 7-Cameron HOWIESON, 9-Hamish WATSON (12-Rory TURNER 80’), 10-Tyler BOYD, 11-Louis FENTON (16-Van ELIA 74’), 15-Justin GULLEY, 17-Ryan THOMAS
Subs not used: 1-Scott BASALAJ (gk), 6-Tom BISS, 8-Jesse EDGE, 13-Liam HIGGINS, 14-Kade SCHRIJVERS, 18-Joel STEVENS, 19-Dale HIGHAM
Coach: Chris MILICICH
OFC U-20 Championship | Results
Wednesday, March 27 | Churchill Park, Lautoka
Vanuatu – bye
New Caledonia 9-3 Papua New Guinea
New Zealand 4-0 Fiji
Monday, March 25 | Churchill Park, Lautoka
Fiji – bye
New Zealand 3-2 New Caledonia
Vanuatu 6-1 Papua New Guinea
Saturday, March 23 | Churchill Park, Lautoka
Papua New Guinea – bye
Vanuatu 0-1 New Zealand
Fiji 3-2 New Caledonia
Thursday, March 21 | Churchill Park, Lautoka
New Caledonia – bye
Fiji 3-2 Vanuatu
Papua New Guinea 0-5 New Zealand
OFC U-20 Championship | Standings
Papua New Guinea
*New Zealand qualifies for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey from June 21 to July 13
OFC U-20 Championship | Upcoming Fixtures
Friday, March 29 | Govind Park, Ba
New Zealand – bye
2.00pm| Papua New Guinea v Fiji
4.30pm| New Caledonia v Vanuatu
FIFA U-20 World Cup Turkey 2013
Monday, June 24 | Bursa, Turkey
6.00pm | New Zealand v Uzbekistan
Thursday, June 27 | Bursa, Turkey
6.00pm | New Zealand v Uruguay
Sunday, June | Bursa, Turkey
6.00pm | Croatia v New Zealand