U-20 men cruise through with big Tonga win

Charles Spragg, centre, celebrates finding the net against Tonga (Phototek)

Defending champions New Zealand are through to the semi-finals of the OFC U-19 Championship after recording their second successive victory, this time going on the goal rampage to record a massive 14-0 success over Tonga at Stade Pater in Tahiti this afternoon.

Des Buckingham’s side began their quest to qualify for the FIFA U-20 World Cup with a hard-fought 2-1 triumph against the hosts on Monday and knew another three points would be a significant step towards reaching Poland next year.

They were heavy favourites going in against a Tongan outfit that fell 4-0 to Papua New Guinea in their opening encounter and Buckingham took the opportunity to shuffle his pack slightly with Zac Jones coming in for Cameron Brown between the sticks while Max Mata and Kingsley Sinclair also made way for Dane Schnell and Trevor Zwetsloot respectively.

The new combinations settled in quickly with New Zealand completely dominating possession straight from the kick off and earning the lead their play deserved through a Robert Tipelu header on 14 minutes. They continued to boss the ball but Tonga, who clearly had a game plan to form a compact unit and frustrate New Zealand, then began to offer more resistance and made it to the first water break without any further damage to the scoreline.

That pause came on the half-hour mark and allowed Buckingham to have a word to his players as they took on the necessary fluids. His input clearly had the desired effect as New Zealand charged out of the blocks after the restart, Dane Schnell hammering into the roof of the net to make it 2-0 before captain Joe Bell popped up with a quick-fire hat-trick in just five minutes.

Five goals to the good at half-time, Buckingham now had even more breathing space to rotate his squad and did just that with a double substitution, Willem Ebbinge and Leon van den Hoven both being withdrawn for Boyd Curry and Oliver Whyte respectively.

Both newcomers would find themselves on the scoresheet and Whyte made a particularly swift impact, notching a double within minutes of entering the fray. By the time a further ten minutes had passed, Charles Spragg had also hit a brace to break New Zealand into double digits before Jordan Spain made it 11-0 just seconds later.

Substitute Curry continued the deluge in the 78th minute while Whyte and Spragg both completed hat-tricks late on, creating a three-way fight with Bell for the match ball. Tonga’s cause was hardly helped with just under ten minutes remaining when Tuia Falepapalangi was shown a red card, leaving his team mates to somehow ward off a rampant New Zealand with only 10 men.

“Full credit to the players, they applied themselves well,” Buckingham said.

“We made a couple of changes today to give some of the guys that hadn’t started the first game a run out and all of them have now played. They did very well and it was a very professional performance to come away with the scoreline that we did.”

Buckingham was impressed with Tonga’s defensive organisation in the opening half hour but revealed he didn’t need to do much to set his side on the goal trail during that first water break.

“It was just a reminder of doing the things that they do well. We’ve got some very talented players across the group and, when they work together, the technical ability they have shines through. So it was just a case of simplifying the game and moving the ball a bit quicker to exploit the space that Tonga were leaving. They did that and did it very well,” he said.

“What was pleasing was the manner in which the goals were scored, some of the patterns of play and the work that created the goals were really enjoyable to watch.”

Having already booked their progression from Group A, New Zealand will now take on Papua New Guinea in their final pool match of the OFC U-19 Championship on Sunday 12 August at 10am (NZT), live streaming will be available via www.oceaniafootball.com

Match Details

New Zealand 14 (Robert Tipelu 14’, Dane Schnell 37’, 68’, Joe Bell 38’, 41’, 43’, Oliver Whyte 47’, 48’, 89’, Charles Spragg 53’, 57’, 88’, Jordan Spain 58’, Boyd Curry 78’)
Tonga 0
HT: 5-0

New Zealand: 12. Zac Jones (GK), 2. Jordan Spain, 3. Dino Botica, 4. Joe Bell (c), 5. Robert Tipelu, 6. Dane Schnell, 8. Trevor Zwetsloot, 10. Charles Spragg, 11. Willem Ebbinge (17. Boyd Curry 45’), 15. Callan Elliot (14. Jorge Akers 69’), 16. Leon van den Hoven (19. Oliver Whyte 45’)
Substitutes not used: 1. Cameron Brown (GK), 7. Matthew Conroy, 9. Max Mata, 18. Kingsley Sinclair
Coach: Des Buckingham

Article added: Thursday 09 August 2018

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