By Dr Pilipus Garpet, Port Moresby 2015 Games News Service
PORT MORSEBY, July 10 – New Zealand booked a spot in the Oceania men’s football Olympic qualifying final with a 2-0 win against Vanuatu on Friday at a grey and damp Bisini Grounds in Port Moresby.
New Zealand had the better of the first half but good goalkeeping from Vanuatu’s Seloni Iaruel and a couple of wasted chances in front of goal from Alex Rufer (NZL) and Clayton Lewis (NZL) meant the teams were locked 0-0 at halftime.
However, Vanuatu began the second half poorly, immediately paid the penalty, and suddenly the game was as good as over.
New Zealand captain Louis Fenton’s long range shot drew a superb fingertip save from Iaruel, but from the resulting corner a goalmouth scramble saw Monty Patterson (NZL) tap in from close range to make it 1-0 just three minutes after the break.
More suspect marking allowed Bill Tuiloma to double the lead in the 56th minute, his powerful glancing header from a corner going in off the underside of the crossbar with goalkeeper Iaruel badly out of position.
The miserable conditions only got worse in the final 20 minutes, and when substitute Dalong Damalip (VAN) failed to hit the target with a clear shot on goal in injury-time, it summed up Vanuatu’s day.
Vanuatu kept up the fight in the first half and did create a couple decent chances, the best coming from a corner when captain Brian Kaltack (VAN) climbed at the far post to rifle a header straight at New Zealand goalkeeper Max Crocombe.
But ultimately, Vanuatu were no match for the Kiwis.
New Zealand now go on to meet Fiji on Sunday July 12 to decide which under-23 team represents Oceania at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, before the 2015 Pacific Games soccer competition is resumed in Port Moresby with the men’s semifinals on Wednesday, July 15.
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