New Zealand head coach Martin Bullock says he remained confident his players would come through as winners despite the desperate finish to Sunday night’s OFC U-17 Championship quarter-final against Vanuatu.
“To be honest, I wasn’t panicking because I trust the players totally,” he said after the 1-0 win in Fiji.
New Zealand needed a stoppage-time penalty scored by Luke Supyk to get past Vanuatu who played a third of the game with 10 players after a red card for violent conduct.
Bullock said at his post-match interview that when preparing for the game, the players had considered different scenarios and they knew what to do.
“We’ve talked about scenarios at times throughout our tournament.
“There’s five minutes to go, we might be one down, what do we do? Five minutes to go, we might be one goal up. What do we do?
“So the boys knew what was happening and were prepared for it.
“I just want to give credit to Vanuatu. They made it super difficult for us. I don’t think they could have done any more, work wise.
“I think we were the better team in the end but we made it perhaps more difficult than it should have been, with the chances we didn’t take.”
Game played on Sunday January 22, 2023
New Zealand 1 (Luke Supyk 90+1′ pen)
Games to be played on Wednesday January 25, 2023
New Caledonia v Tahiti
HFC Bank Stadium, Suva (5pm, NZT)
New Zealand v Fiji
HFC Bank Stadium, Suva (8pm, NZT)