New Zealand have cruised into the quarter-finals of the OFC U-17 Championship with an 11-0 demolition of tournament outsiders American Samoa.
Head coach Martin Bullock fielded a completely-rotated starting line-up, resting those who beat New Caledonia 3-2 in midweek.
The New Zealand side are now two wins away from qualifying for November’s FIFA U-17 World Cup in Peru, needing to win their quarter and semi-finals to clinch their spot.
Wellington Phoenix players took the plaudits against American Samoa, scoring four of New Zealand’s five goals in the first half, and eight of the full-match total.
Luke Flowerdew scored four while Melville United substitute Matt D’Holman picked up a hat-trick.
The first came after only four minutes when a Harry Huxford corner was missed by goalkeeper Alexander Mae’e, giving Phoenix defender Jesper Edwards a free header.
In the 10th minute, Phoenix teammate Gabriel Sloane-Rodrigues struck a hopeful shot from 35 minutes but Mae’e’s dive could not reach the ball as it rolled inside the post.
For the next half hour, New Zealand worked hard in the hot conditions but could not finish the many chances they created.
Sloane-Rodrigues was tormenting the American Samoan defence on the left wing, Christchurch United wide man Jackson Cole was giving them a hard time on the right.
But it took till the 38th minute before New Zealand broke through for their third goal.
Substitute Anton Isaako crossed into the box and Phoenix forward Flowerdew, a late addition to the touring squad, met it with his head from six metres.
New Zealand’s fourth goal was scored by another substitute when D’Holman bravely headed the ball into the net from close range after another goalkeeper error. It was his first touch after coming onto the pitch, as a replacement for the injured Cole.
Main photo: Four-goal forward Luke Flowerdew bursts through the defence. Photo: Pita Simpson / Phototek.
In stoppage time, Flowerdew scored his second goal, when his initial shot was parried by Mae’e but he steered the rebound into the net.
The American Samoan team had worked hard but were out-classed by a more skilful side.
But their efforts finally produced a goalscoring chance early in the second half but the effort from 25 metres sailed wide past the New Zealand post.
The American Samoa team held firm for more than 20 minutes in the second half but then their resolve crumbled.
In the 68th minute, Eric Imachi Sugahara put a cross into the box for Sloane-Rodrigues to steer into the goal, to make it 6-0.
From the restart, the American Samoa defence gifted possession to New Zealand and Flowerdew shot from 25 metres to complete his hat-trick.
In the 76th minute, D’Holman stretched the lead to 8-0 when he reacted quickly to another goalkeeper error, passing the ball into the net from 12 metres.
With five minutes left, Flowerdew was clumsily brought down in the box.
Substitute Luke Supyk — who scored a hat-trick in New Zealand’s 3-2 win against New Caledonia — put it away to make the score 9-0.
A minute later, Flowerdew added his fourth of the day to put New Zealand into double figures.
D’Holman completed his own hat-trick with a shot from a tight angle as the game was about to go into added time.
The Player of the Match award went to another Phoenix player, Harrison Tisch.
New Zealand go through to the quarter-finals as Group B winners and will face the best third-placed side from Group A or C in Suva on January 21.
Game played on Saturday January 14, 2023
New Zealand 11 (Jesper Edwards 4′, Gabriel Sloane-Rodrigues 11′, 68′, Luke Flowerdew 38′, 45+2′, 69′, 88′, Matt D’Hotman 42′, 76′. 90+1′, Luke Supyk 87′)
American Samoa 0
You can watch the stream of the full game here:
Line-up: Eamonn McCarron (Joshua Brown 46′), Luka Coveny (Anton Isaako 22′), Eric Imachi Sugahara, Luke Flowerdew, Jackson Cole (Matt D’Holman 42′), Nicholas Murphy (captain), Harry Huxford, Jesper Edwards, Gabriel Sloane Rodrigues (Luke Supyk 75′), Harrison Tisch, Niko Bruce (James Ray 75′).
Subs not used: Matt Foord, Ryan Lee, Marley Leuluai, Dylan Gardiner, Konstantino Gorgiovski, Anaru Cassidy, Adam Watson.
Head coach: Martin Bullock.
Line-up: Alexander Mae’e Felise Fata 49′), August Grey, Pedro Kuresa, Pela Scanlan, Robert Coulter, Dylan Salapu (Elson Utoaluga 46′), Malotou Leatualevao (Stefano Tuailemafua 60′), Ben Tofeaono (Ajaion Fuimaono 46′), Johnica Collins (captain), Fiamatai Itamua (Samu Emani 60′), Daniel Lee.
Subs not used: Richard Niko, Stidolph Maile, Edward Loke.
Head coach: Ruben Luvu.
Referee: David Yareboinen (Papua New Guinea); first assistant: Jeremy Garae (Vanuatu); second assistant: Adriu Naisiroki (Fiji); fourth official: Arnold Naisiroki (Fiji); Fifth official: Hilmon Sese (Vanuatu), assessor: Neil Poloso (Solomon Islands), co-ordinator: Cheyanne Pay (Australia).
READ MORE: Our previous stories about the OFC U-17 Championship >>>>