South Islanders played a big role in New Zealand’s 8-0 win against the Cook Islands in their opening game at the OFC U-19 Championships.
New Zealand’s goals came from Cashmere Technical striker Kian Donkers (4), Invercargill-born Jay Herdman and Oliver Colloty who moved north this year to join Melville United after spells in Canterbury and Otago.
The other goal was scored by Auckland United’s Oliver Fay.
The busiest player on the Stade Fautaua pitch in Tahiti was Cook Islands goalkeeper Ngereine Maro who faced a barrage of New Zealand attacks throughout the game.
Maro (17) plays for Wellington club Western Suburbs but has previously played for Canterbury’s FC Twenty 11, Christchurch United and Ferrymead Bay.
The opening group game was as straightforward as New Zealand coach Darren Bazeley would have wanted.
His side dominated possession and looked for every opportunity to play their way into the opposition penalty area, rather than shoot from long range.
Donkers opened the scoring after a minute’s play, latching onto an excellent ball played over the Cook Islands back four by Lukas Kelly-Heald.
Maro made a couple of outstanding saves to keep Cook Islands only a goal down until the 21st minute when Adam Supyk crossed perfectly for Donkers to turn into the net from six metres.
Donkers completed his hat-trick after 34 minutes, and the game quickly started to move out of reach for an outclassed Cook Islands team.
Jay Herdman, who plays for Canadian club Whitecaps FC, had missed a couple of chances early but made up for them with New Zealand’s fourth goal in the 38th minute.
A few minutes later, New Zealand were awarded a penalty after a clumsy tackle, and Donkers put his spot kick out of Maro’s reach.
That made the score 5-0 at half-time.
In the 67th minute, coach Blazey made five substitutions in one go — clearly designed to help climatise his players to the Tahitian conditions.
Colloty took quick advantage, scoring his first goal at this level with a penalty in the 70th minute.
In the 81st minute, Fay scored New Zealand’s seventh with one of the few long-range efforts in the match.
Colloty scored his second, a simple tap in, to complete the scoring in the 84th minute.
New Zealand: Henry Gray, Adam Supuk, Isaac Hughes, Finn Surman (c), Fin Conchie, Noah Karunaratne, Jackson Manuel, Jay Herdman, Lukas Kelly-Heald, Kian Donkers, Everton O’Leary.
Substitutions (all after 67′): Off — Supyk, Karunaratne, Herdman, Donkers, O’Leary. On — Oliver Colloty, Oliver Fay, Sebastian Barton-Ginger, Charlie Beale, Wilson Souphanthavong.
Game played on Thursday September 8, 2022
New Zealand 8 (Kian Donkers 2′, 21′, 35′, 44′ pen, Jay Herdman 39′, Oliver Colloty 71′ pen, 84′, Oliver Fay 82′)
Cook Islands 0
Solomon Islands 6 (Barrie Limoki 10′, Paul Francis 17′, 26′, 66′, Aiden Suri 28′, 70′)
American Samoa 0
New Zealand’s fixtures
New Zealand’s group games are being played at Tahiti’s 5,000-seater Stade Fautaua.
Sunday September 11 (1pm NZT): New Zealand v America Samoa
Wednesday September 14 (1pm NZT): New Zealand v Solomon Islands
Group A: New Zealand, Solomon Islands, American Samoa, Cook Islands
Group B: Tahiti, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Tonga
Group C: New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Samoa (this group will have a bye for each team)
About the OFC U-19 Championship
New Zealand have won the championship at seven of the 22 previous tournaments.
New Zealand are the current title holders, having won in 2018, the last time the championship was held.
What it means to play for the U-19s