New Zealand will meet Tahiti in the semi-finals of the Oceania FIFA World Cup qualifying tournament on Monday (6.30am NZT).
By the time they kick-off, they will already know who their potential final opponent as Solomon Islands meet Papua New Guinea in the earlier semi-final, starting at 3am.
The All Whites reached the knockout stages of the eight-nation tournament with a ruthless 7-1 win against New Caledonia on Friday.
The Solomon Islands beat Tahiti 3-1 to top Group A.
New Zealand romped through their game against New Caledonia, condemning their opponents to their third loss at the tournament.
New Zealand’s goals were scored by Alex Greive (2), Logan Rogerson (pen), Andre De Jong, Bill Tuiloma and Chris Wood (2).
Jean-Philippe Saiko scored for New Caledonia with their only goal attempt of the match.
Papua New Guinea joined New Zealand in the knockout stages with a 2-1 win against 10-man Fiji after having to come from behind.
Fiji took a 12th-minute lead through Tevita Waranaivala but their goalscorer was sent off in the 42nd minute for a foul.
PNG took advantage, levelling in added time of the first half through Ati Kepol.
Former Hamilton Wanderers striker Tommy Semmy became the PNG hero, scoring the matchwinner in the 62nd minute, his second of the tournament.
Solomon Islands topped Group A after beating Tahiti 3-1 at Grand Hamad Stadium in Doha thanks to a hat-trick by former Wellington Phoenix academy player Raphael Lea’i (20’, 52’, 90’+6’).
A FIFA ruling on Thursday had determined the result of this match would decide which nation would top the group following the withdrawals by Vanuatu and Cook Islands due to cases of COVID within their squads.
The Solomons had beaten Cook Islands 2-0 in their opening pool game — the result of which was annulled — so they go into the semi-finals with two competition games as preparation.
Tahiti, however, have played this one game, and a practice match this week against a local team.
Meanwhile, in CONCACAF …
Friday is a key day for the eight nations fighting to qualify from North, South and Central America and the Caribbean via the CONCACAF qualifying series.
On Friday afternoon (NZT), four games take place that could see Canada book its place for the Qatar FIFA World Cup finals, if they beat Costa Rica.
Depending on other results, a draw might even suffice for the team coached by John Herdman, who 10 years ago was an employee of NZ Football and playing Lotto NRFL football for Hibiscus Coast.
Of course, New Zealand fans will be watching the results to figure out the team most likely to finish in fourth place when the series ends next Thursday (March 31).
The fourth-placed CONCACAF team will play Oceania’s top qualifier in a sudden-death inter-confederation play-off in Qatar on June 14-15.
12.05pm: Jamaica v El Salvador
2.05pm: Panama v Honduras
3.00pm: Mexico v United States
3.05pm: Costa Rica v Canada