New Zealand and Tahiti played at the Grand Hamad Stadium in Doha to decide who would face the Solomon Islands in the final of the OFC World Cup qualifiers.
New Zealand just missed the midfielder Marko Stamenic in their squad meaning the All Whites were virtually at full strength. Tahiti, meanwhile, had only one change from the team that lost to the Solomon Islands, Kevin Barbe was replaced by Mauri Heitaa.
The match started with New Zealand pushing Tahiti back, trying to infiltrate its defense. The match had a high number of fouls in the first half with both teams battling hard for the ball possesion. New Zealand’s first and only scoring chance was on a Matt Garbett header that went over Teave Teamotuaitau‘s goal – The Kiwis faced a very tough challenge from Tahitian defensive system.
In the second half the script of the match was the same with New Zealand pressing Tahiti in search of space – New Zealand exchanged many passes and did not offer much danger to the Polynesians – until the seventy minute when Liberato Cacace found Alex Greive in the box who crossed, Matt Garbett misjudged and the ball was left for Liberato Cacace himself to shoot and score his first goal at senior level for New Zealand. You can watch the goal by clicking here.
Tahiti then even tried to come forward in the final minutes – but it was too late. For the Tahitian side, the performances of defenders Alvin Tehau and François Hapipi were outstanding, and they were always precise when they had to act – especially against New Zealand’s skipper Chris Wood.
Now New Zealand advances to the final to repeat their 2017 clash, when they also faced the Solomon Islands in the WCQ final. The match will be on Wednesday 5pm Local local time (Doha, Qatar).