By Francis Gabriel, Port Moresby 2015 Games News Service
PORT MORESBY, July 11 – The New Zealand under-23 men’s soccer team are one step away from qualifying for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as they prepare to meet Fiji in the Oceania Olympic qualifying final at Bisini Grounds on Sunday.
The tournament favourites struggled in the first half of their semifinal against Vanuatu before scoring two goals in the second half to win the game on Friday.
New Zealand coach Anthony Hudson (GBR) said his side deserved the win.
“When you get to the semifinal it’s not going to be easy. It was a hard game. We didn’t start the first half very well – we started very slowly. So we had to make some changes and in the second half we were much better. In the end we deserved the win,” he said.
Vanuatu coach Richard Iwai (VAN) said he was impressed with his team’s fighting spirit despite the defeat.
“New Zealand is a very good side. The thing I am happy about is we dominated the game. Our mistakes in defending corner kicks punished us,” he said.
“The boys lost concentration and that’s why we conceded two silly goals in the second half. But I’m happy with the game.”
New Zealand will play Fiji for a place at Rio 2016 on Sunday at 18:00.
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