Junior All Whites coach Darren Bazeley says “pent-up aggression and energy” were probably responsible for Papua New Guinea’s hard-tackling approach that left New Zealand players injured and two in hospital after the sides’ game in Tahiti.
New Zealand beat PNG 5-0 in the quarter-finals of the OFC U-19 Championship but the Kiwis finished the match with Jackson Jarvie and Theo Ethema taken to hospital for checks.
Four PNG players were booked by referee Ben Aukwai, from the Solomon Islands, and defender Nigel Kiaka was sent off after getting two yellow cards within a minute for twice clattering New Zealand’s Jay Herdman into the sideline.
‘It’s a shame because it could have been a good game of football’
Interviewed after the game, Bazeley said:
“It was a difficult game for us because we were playing against a pretty aggressive opponent.
“We’ve got two players in hospital which is not good for us … poor lads, and they quite a lot of other tackles with (our) players getting quite serious injuries.
“We spent probably half the game trying to manage the game.
“We did the job; we did a really professional job, and the majority of time, stayed out of trouble and secured our way through to the next round.
“It’s a shame because it could have been a good game of football.”
Bazeley said he realised PNG were playing their first game at the tournament and “pent-up aggression and energy” had played a part.
“I spent half the second half telling my boys to pass the ball and stay out of trouble,” he said.
Bazeley said he believed there was still more to come from “a good set of lads” who had shown a great team spirt at the tournament.
READ MORE: New Zealand beat PNG 5-0 to reach semi-finals >>>>
Game played on Monday September 19, 2022
New Zealand 5 (Dan McKay 19′, 26′, Jay Herman 60′, Oliver Colloty 88′, 90+2′)
Papua New Guinea 0