OFC U-17 Championship: Fiji and New Zealand play decisive semifinal

Fiji and New Zealand will meet at 7 pm local time on January 25th in Suva, the Fijian capital. Both teams have confirmed their favouritism and advanced to the semifinal of the tournament.

FIJI VS COOK ISLANDS

Fiji started the game controlling possession as expected, but the lack of creativity not allowed the hosts to get goalscoring chances.

The 1-0 lead came only in first-half stoppage time when Cook Islands’ goalkeeper failed to clear Watisoni Batirerega shot and Petero Maivalenisau scored the first goal of the match taking the rebound already in the penalty box.

Fijian players celebrating the first goal – OFC Media

At the start of the second half Fiji seemed determined to settle the match, until in the 50th minute Delon Shankar took a free-kick, the ball hit the post and came back to Dwayne Matapo who unfortunately ended up scoring an own goal.

In the 90th minute Petero Maivalenisau scored again with a header to give final numbers to the score. Fiji will be looking to play in the FIFA U-17 World Cup for the first time in their history – but for that they will need to win the semifinal match.

NEW ZEALAND VS VANUATU

New Zealand and Vanuatu match was a fierce duel; the Kiwis were expected to win this game, but the match was indeed very hard for them.

New Zealand struggled to break through the defensive lines of Vanuatu, who had a good performance from goalkeeper Joseph Nakou and also from their defense line.

Vanuatu had a clear chance on Augustine Chilia shot in an one-on-one situation after a counter-attack move led by Jimmy Moso. At the 40th minute Vanuatu had another chance to score with an excellent move by Romain Luake who dribbled three defenders but finished over the goal.

In the second half the situation did not change. New Zealand played very slow and as a result they did not create any danger to the Vanuatu goal.

Things seemed to change when Yan Chilia was red carded after a brawl with New Zealand’s Niko Bruce. New Zealand now had one more man in the pitch now a total control of the match. The goalkeeper Nakou had to make a series of interventions, but New Zealand still struggled to create real chances.

New Zealand’s winning goal only came in the 92th minute, when Luke Supyk took a penalty that himself was awarded after being fouled by goalkeeper Joseph Nakou.

New Zealand players celebrating the goal – OFC Media

For Vanuatu the tournament has ended; they could had player better football in their previous matches, but they put up a great fight against New Zealand showing that this young team has a lot of potential to be explored. The work of Brazilian Emerson Alcantara coach also can be praised especially from these 90 minutes played against New Zealand.

New Zealand now only needs to beat Fiji, the hosts, to confirm a spot in Peru’s U-17 World Cup – but certainly they will need to play better football to surpass the talented Fijian team.

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