New Zealand gets 2-1 win over China at Sky Stadium

In a highly anticipated international friendly match played on the 26th of March 2023, New Zealand managed to secure a hard-fought 2-1 win against China at the Sky Stadium in Wellington.

The All Whites had struggled to find the back of the net since their 5-0 victory over Solomon Islands at the World Cup qualifiers last year. However, they finally broke the drought in the 43rd minute of the game when Marco Rojas‘ set piece found the head of Chinese defender Zhu Chenjie, who unfortunately ended up scoring an own goal.

Even before the goal Eli Just got a penalty for New Zealand, which was poorly taken by Alex Greive and saved by goalkeeper Yan Junling. Thed deadlock would be only broken minutes later thanks to an own goal, but somehow a New Zealander would manage to score in this game: in the second half, the NAC Breda’s Matthew Garbett came off the bench to score a fantastic goal for the All Whites, finishing off a brilliant assist from Joe Bell in the 81st minute.

Despite China’s efforts to mount a comeback, they were only able to reduce the deficit to 2-1 when Ba Dun scored a header in the 92nd minute of the game, too late for the Chinese to salvage a draw. It was disappointing for China, who had high hopes for the game after getting a draw against the All Whites in their previous friendly last week.

New Zealand players celebrate their first goal – Stuff

The All Whites were once again without their star and captain Chris Wood, who was sidelined with injury and had returned to England before the game. Despite his absence, the team showed great character and resilience to secure the win.

The victory will give New Zealand a much-needed confidence boost ahead of their upcoming fixtures, and they will be hoping to build on this momentum as they continue their preparations for the next World Cup qualifiers.


Gagame Feni double confirms Solomon Islands as winners of the Tri-Nations as they beat Fiji

In the final matchday of the Tri-Nations tournament played at Churchill Park in Lautoka, Fiji on the 26th of March 2023, Gagame Feni scored a brace for the Solomon Islands to secure a 2-0 win over Fiji.

Feni, who was the top scorer of the previous season’s Telekom S-League for Kossa FC, opened the scoring for his country with a penalty-kick in the 40th minute of play. He then doubled his tally in the second half with a brilliant strike to confirm the win for Solomon Islands. You can watch the highlights of the match by clicking here.

This victory marked the third consecutive win for the Solomon Islands in the Tri-Nations tournament, making them the undisputed winners of the competition. The team is coached by Spanish coach Felipe Vega-Arango, who has been instrumental in their success.

Solomon Islands players celebrate one of the goals scored – Fiji FA Media

Feni’s performance in the match was outstanding and he was rightly awarded the man of the match award for his efforts. His goals were a testament to his skills as a striker and showed why he was the top scorer in the Telekom S-League.

The Solomon Islands team can be proud of their performances in the tournament and will take a lot of confidence from their victories into future international matches. The win against Fiji in the final matchday was a perfect way to cap off a successful tournament and they will undoubtedly be looking to build on this success for the upcoming Pacific Games to be played in homesoil still this year.

Tri-Nations: Kalotang and Moses goals confirm Vanuatu win over Fiji U-20

The Vanuatu national football team put on a stellar performance in their final match of the Tri-Nations tournament against Fiji U-20 on the 26th of March 2023. The match was played at Churchill Park in Lautoka, Fiji, and saw Vanuatu triumph over their opponents by 2-1.

Galaxy FC’s striker Joe Moses put Vanuatu in the lead early on, scoring a goal at the 10th minute of play. The Ifira Black Bird’s star Tonly Kalotang doubled their lead at the 50th minute, giving Vanuatu a comfortable lead. However, the Junior Bula Boys fought back with Gary Kubu scoring a goal at the 55th minute, but it wasn’t enough to secure a draw or a win.

Vanuatu national team – Fiji FA Media

This victory marked the second win for Vanuatu in the tournament, with their only loss coming against the Solomon Islands national team. As a result, they finished the tournament in second place, while Fiji U-20 ended up in the last place with just one point taken from the draw against Fiji national team.

For Fiji U-20, the international friendly matches served as preparation for the upcoming U-20 World Cup in Indonesia this May. Despite not performing well in the Tri-Nations tournament, the experience gained will be valuable for their preparations for the World Cup.

On the other hand, Vanuatu can be proud of their performances, winning two out of three matches under the guidance of coach Etienne Mermer. Their good performances in the international friendly matches this FIFA window give Vanuatu a boost in their build up for the Pacific Games to be played this year in Honiara, Solomon Islands.

Nabil Begg: the future star of Fijian football

Nabil Begg is a rising star in Fijian football and a talented striker for both Ba FC and the Fiji national team. Despite being only 19 years old, Begg has already made a significant impact in the local football scene with his impressive skills and goal-scoring abilities.

Begg’s talent helped Fiji’s U-20 team qualify for the U-20 World Cup for the second time ever in Tahiti last year. He scored the crucial goal against New Caledonia that secured Fiji’s spot in the tournament, which will be held this year in Indonesia.

In addition to his success with the U-20 team, Begg has also played for the Fiji senior national team, competing in the OFC World Cup qualifying tournament held in Qatar last year. Despite his young age, he has already played in two matches for the national team, showcasing his potential as a future star of Fijian football.

At the club level, Begg has been a key player for Ba FC, one of the top teams in the Digicel Fiji Premier League. He has scored six goals in 23 matches in the national league, including a goal in the team’s 2-0 win over Nadroga earlier this season. Begg has also participated in prestigious local tournaments such as the Battle of Giants and InterDistrict Championship, where he has further demonstrated his skills on the field. You can watch here a highlights video made by Oceania Football Center on Begg recent achievements.

Nabil Begg celebrates the decisive goal against New Caledonia – OFC Media

Begg’s success on the field has not gone unnoticed overseas, as it is expected the player to move to New Zealand football league system after the U-20 World Cup, as Begg mentioned to Oceania Football Center in an interview recently. This move is expected to further develop his skills and provide him with new opportunities to showcase his talent on an international stage.

Overall, Nabil Begg is a promising young talent in Fijian football and is poised to become a star player in the years to come. His impressive skills and goal-scoring abilities make him a valuable asset for both Ba FC and the Fiji national team, and he is sure to be a player to watch in the future.

Solomon Islands: Kanahanimae proud to represent his country for the first time

Solomon Islands started very well the Tri-Nations friendly tournament; the Bonitos won both their matches so far in Fiji and is very likely the team coached by Felipe Vega-Arango will end up as the winners of the competition. Their strong performances against Fiji U-20 and Vanuatu proved the mix of experience and youth selected by the Spanish coach for this tournament is really working.

One of these youngsters is Alford Kanahanimae, the Henderson Eels’ midfielder and former U-17 representant of Solomon Islands in the U-17 World Cup in 2019 held in Brazil, had his first call up for the senior national team for the Tri-Nations: “I feel very excited and humbled to represent my country“, said Alford.

Alford Kanahanimae (left) – Fiji FA Media

These two games were my first with the national team, it was so high in terms of intensity and every single player compete more than in the TSL, but i really enjoyed my first caps with the national team“, said the 20-year-old – “I thank my coach Felipe Vega-Arango for giving me this opportunity to compete on the highest level“, completed the midfielder.

The midfielder expects to have more chances with the senior national team and to be involved in the mix for the upcoming Pacific Games to be played at home in Honiara. Alford also prepares himself for another Telekom S-League season with Henderson Eels; with only 20-years-old, he can be a potential star of the national team in the upcoming years.

Spokeyjack happy with Vanuatu national team performance after natural disasters affected the country

Vanuatu has still one more match to be played at Churchill Park, in Lautoka. The team coached by Etienne Mermer is set to play against Fiji U-20 side in the Tri-Nations invitational friendly. The first match saw Vanuatu win Fiji national team by 2-1 and in their second game a 2-0 defeat against Solomon Islands.

Oceania Football Center talked to Jonathan Spokeyjack, one of the standout players of Ifira Black Bird that was called up once again to the national team. The winger was in the scoresheet against Fiji in their 2-1 win in the debut in the invitational tournament: “Overall it is being good, we faced two cyclones and an earthequake, and we have only two-day preparation before we travel to Fiji“, said Spokeyjack – “It was really bad, but somehow we stand to represent our federation (VFF)“, said the player when asked if the disasters had affected heavily the national team players. “We came to Fiji not to talk about cyclones, but we wanna show the we still have good quality football” explained the 24-year-old player.

Spokeyjack (middle) – Fiji FA Media

We still want to get back our style of play that we had in the past and we are working on to have it back before the SPG in Solomon Islands this year“, mentioned the Ifira Black Bird star, that shows the aim of Vanuatu national team to make a real impact in the upcoming Pacific Games in Honiara. “We are going to improve step by step, working with our coach and assistant coach. The more you work hard, the best our team will get” said emphatically Spokeyjack.

Vanuatu has certainly much to work before their duties at the end of the year on Pacific Games, the Tri-Nations is a good opportunity for the players to get a much needed international exposure. As mentioned by Spokeyjack, the team can be proud of their efforts after being hit by natural disasters; resillience is something used to the Pacific Islanders and in football that is not different.

Keana and Sipakana join Solomon Warriors for upcoming Telekom S-League season

Don Keana, the Solomon Islands international midfielder, has made a name for himself as a skilled and dynamic player on the pitch. Having played two games already for his national team, Keana has now joined the ranks of the Solomon Warriors, the current champions of the Telekom S-League.

Keana’s previous club was Peninsula Power in Australia, where he honed his skills and gained valuable experience on the field. His transfer to the Solomon Warriors is expected to bring a new level of talent and expertise to the team, as they look to defend their title in the upcoming Telekom S-League season.

Joining Keana in the Solomon Warriors’ lineup is Jaygray Sipakana, a former striker for Real Kakamora and Nadi from Fiji. Sipakana has also been spotted in the team’s training sessions, indicating that he is set to make his mark on the pitch alongside Keana.

Sipakana and Keana

However, both Keana and Sipakana will not be eligible to play in the 2023 OFC Champions League this May in Vanuatu. This is due to regulations that do not allow players who have recently been signed to a new club to be registered for international tournaments. Despite this setback, Keana and Sipakana are still expected to be key players for the Solomon Warriors in the upcoming Telekom S-League season.

Fans of the Solomon Warriors and the Telekom S-League can look forward to seeing Keana and Sipakana in action soon, as they bring their unique skills and experience to the field. With the addition of these two talented players, the Solomon Warriors are sure to be a force to be reckoned with in the upcoming season.

Roonui Tinirauarii’s brace give Tahiti win over New Caledonia in second international friendly match

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In an exciting friendly match played at Stade Pater, Pirae on Friday, March 24th, Tahiti defeated New Caledonia with a score of 2-1. New Caledonia got off to a flying start as AS Temanava’s Makalu Xowi scored in the first half, giving his team the lead. However, Tahiti bounced back in the second half, thanks to the heroics of Roonui Tinirauarii, who scored two goals and secured the win for Tahiti.

Roonui Tinirauarii, who plays for AS Dragon, has been in scintillating form this season, and his performance in this match was no different. With his brace, he led Tahiti to victory – Tinirauarii is the top goalscorer in the Ligue 1 so far this season.

New Caledonia, coached by Johann Sidaner, had won the first friendly match between the two sides earlier this week with a score of 2-0 at the same venue. However, Tahiti, led by coach Samuel Garcia, showed their mettle in the second game and avenged their defeat with a well-deserved victory.

Roonui Tinirauarii – Christophe Fotozz

It was an exciting match that saw both teams give it their all on the field. Tahiti dominated possession and had more shots on target, but New Caledonia’s defense put up a tough fight. In the end, it was Roonui Tinirauarii’s skill and determination that made the difference, and Tahiti emerged victorious.

Overall, the match was a great display of sportsmanship and skill by both teams. It was a valuable opportunity for them to test their players and prepare for future matches. The win will surely boost Tahiti’s confidence as they continue to build towards their upcoming fixtures, while New Caledonia will have to regroup and come back stronger in their next game.

Argentinian Zapata departs Fiji U-20 head coach position; Ronil Lal back in charge

According to local sources, Rodolfo Zapata, the Argentinian head coach of Fiji U-20, has departed from his position and left the country. The U-20 squad of Fiji, which is preparing for the U-20 World Cup in Indonesia in May, is now under the charge of Ronil Lal, the former head coach of the team. Lal was responsible for qualifying Fiji for the U-20 World Cup last year in the U-19 OFC Championship held in Tahiti.

During the Tri-Nations friendly tournament, where Fiji U-20 is playing against Fiji national team, Vanuatu, and Solomon Islands, Zapata was not in charge of the team. Lal was already seen as the head coach, and no announcement was made by Fiji FA about Zapata’s departure. Zapata coached only for three matches, in an invitational tournament held in Jakarta, Indonesia, where Fiji U-20 lost all its three games to Indonesia, Guatemala, and New Zealand, conceding ten goals and scoring just once.

Zapata and Lal

The team seemed to have behavior problems, as Fiji saw four red cards, with three just in one game, during these three friendly matches. The exact reasons for Zapata’s departure are still undisclosed. The signing of Zapata came as something questionable to the Fijian football community that expected Ronil Lal to keep in charge of the team due his good results in 2022.

This sudden departure of Zapata is a setback for the Fiji U-20 team, which is preparing for the upcoming U-20 World Cup. However, Ronil Lal’s experience and expertise may help the team to overcome this situation and get ready for the competition. It is still unknown wether the former Labasa head coach is going to be the head coach in the U-20 World Cup.

New Zealand U-22 records win over China in Auckland

New Zealand’s Under-22 side secured an impressive 2-0 victory over China’s Under-24 team in a friendly match played at Mt. Smart Stadium in Auckland on Thursday. The match served as a warm-up for the senior squads of both nations, who were set to play later in the day. The seniors’ match ended in a hard-fought 0-0 draw.

The young All Whites dominated the game from start to finish, and their efforts were rewarded with two well-deserved goals. The first goal came from the penalty spot, with Wellington Phoenix’s Sam Sutton stepping up to calmly convert the spot-kick. The second goal was scored in the second half by Riley Bidois, who showed great composure to finish past the Chinese goalkeeper.

Despite the victory, the New Zealand U-22 side will be aware that there is still room for improvement, and they will be looking to build on this performance in their next match against the same opponents. The two teams will meet once more, this time at Sky Stadium in Wellington, which will also serve as a warm-up for the senior sides’ match later in the day.

New Zealand celebrate one of their goals – NZF Media

The win is a positive sign for the Kiwi U-22 side, who will be looking to build momentum as they prepare for future competitions. With a solid defensive display and some clinical finishing, the team will be hoping to replicate their success in future fixtures.

Overall, it was a promising performance by the New Zealand U-22 side, who will take great confidence from their victory over a tough Chinese team. The fans will be hoping for more of the same in their upcoming matches as they continue to develop and progress towards to a possible call up for the senior All Whites squad.