Late penalty gets New Zealand into semi-finals at OFC U-17 Championship

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A penalty in stoppage time has given New Zealand a nerve-jangling 1-0 win against 10-man Vanuatu, taking the side to within a game of qualifying for November’s FIFA U-17 World Cup in Peru.

Luke Supyk’s goal from the spot ended a battling performance from a Vanuatu side that gave the New Zealanders a big fright in the quarter-final at the OFC U-17 Championship.

Main photo: The relieved New Zealanders celebrate Supyk’s winner.

The Vanuatu played a third of the game with only 10 men after Yan Chilia copped a straight red for kicking at a New Zealander.

The result means New Zealand will meet host nation Fiji in Wednesday’s semi-final in which the winner will qualify for Peru, along with the other semi-final winner.

READ MORE: Coach Martin Bullock: ‘I wasn’t panicking because I trust the players’ >>>>

Head coach Martin Bullock named a starting line-up that mainly comprised the players who had seen their way past New Caledonia 3-2 in the opening game of the tournament.

A surprise omission was Manchester City defender Marley Leuluai who captained New Zealand in the opener.

Though he didn’t name the player, Bullock said after the game, he had one player unable to take further part in the tournament.

In the opening stages of the match, New Zealand had Vanuatu backpedalling and went close with several shots, including one that rattled the post.

But a physical Vanuatu side worked their way into the contest and made it clear they would scrap for every ball.

New Zealand captain Nicholas Murphy went into the referee’s book for a poor tackle and in the 20th minute, he was forced to make a lunging tackle in the penalty area to prevent a Vanuatu break.

Mistimed, it could so easily have ended up with a penalty conceded and second yellow, but Murphy timed his tackle to perfection.

In the 28th minute, New Zealand’s Luke Supyk fired the ball into the Vanuatu net only to be ruled offside.

A few minutes later, Vanuatu had the best chance of the game when the speedy Jimmy Moso put Augustine Chilia through with only ‘keeper Matthew Foord to beat.

Foord spread himself wide and blocked the shot, and the rebound was cleared to safety.

Vanuatu threatened again in the 40th minute when Romain Luake jinked his way into the box, turning defenders and lining up a shot, When it came, he ballooned it over the bar.

Supyk broke clear but Vanuatu goalkeeper Joseph Nakou threw himself at the forward’s feet, blocking the shot.

At half-time, Vanuatu were cheered off as heroes by the partisan locals for not only keeping hot favourites New Zealand scoreless but for looking capable of an upset.

The second half started with both sides fired up and with an air of desperation.

Half-chances and fouls went both ways; the referee started to play a bigger part in trying to keep things calm.

New Zealand sub Anton Isaako went into the ref’s book.

Red card … and Vanuatu are reduced to 10 players.

In the 57th minute, Vanuatu’s Yan Chilia went down, clutching his leg. New Zealand’s Niko Bruce leaned over him, grabbing a leg.

Enraged, Chilia leapt to his feet and kicked out at his opponent, in full view of referee Veer Singh.

Chilia copped a straight red; Bruce received a yellow. Vanuatu coach Emerson Alcantar also went into the book for his comments to the official.

The 10-man Vanuatu side defended desperately as New Zealand threw everyone forward in search of the matchwinner.

The pressure was on, and New Zealand were dominating possession.

With a minute to go, Supyk was brought down by the ‘keeper, and the ref pointed to the spot.

Supyk took the penalty, smashing it hard and high into the net.

New Zealand were off the hook — as long as they kept their nerve for five minutes of added time.

Eventually, the final whistle went.

For this group of teenagers, the dream of going to a World Cup is now only 90 minutes away.

READ MORE: Coach Martin Bullock: ‘I wasn’t panicking because I trust the players’ >>>>

Match stats (New Zealand / Vanuatu)

Shots on target: 14 / 5

Fouls: 11 / 19

Yellow cards: 4 / 2

Red card: 0 / 1


Here are three minutes of highlights from the match:

Live stream

Here is the full game:


New Zealand

Matthew Foord, Ryan Lee (Jackson Cole 76′), Luka Coveny, Dylan Gardiner, Konstantino Gorgiovski (Harrison Tisch 76′), Luke Supyk, Nicholas Murphy (captain) (Anton Isaako 46′), Anaru Cassidy, Adam Watson (Gabriel Sloane-Rodrigues 66′), Matt D’Hotman, Niko Bruce (Luke Flowerdew 83′).

Subs: Joshua Brown (GK), Eamonn McCarron (GK), Eric Imachi Sugahara, James Ray, Harry Huxford, Jesper Edwards.

Head coach: Martin Bullock.

Yellow cards: Murphy 17′, Isaako 53′, Foord 59′, Bruce 59′.


Starting XI: Joseph Nakou, Timothy Arukesa (Delickson Judah 82′), Albert Timothy, Junerno Loli (captain), Jean Natou, Augustine Chilia, Yan Chilia, Johnathan Kayor, Jeffe Willy (Aron Kalotang 75′), Jimmy Moso (Jeremy Masso 68′), Romain Luake.

Subs: Joseph Carlot (GK), Jesse Kapala (GK), Simon Takonavakalo, Ciciniho Tasso, Brian Tomkar, Joseph Anganaboe, DamienTari, Renox Tatalae, Jim Peter.

Head coach: Emerson Alcantar.

Yellow card: Alcantara 60′, Kalotang 76′.

Red card: Chilia 59′.


Referee: Veer Singh (Fiji), assistant referees: Malaetala Salanoa (Samoa) and Folio Moeki (Tonga), fourth official: Ben Aukwai (Solomon Islands).

READ MORE: Here’s all our coverage of the OFC U-17 Championship >>>>



Game played on Sunday January 22, 2023

New Zealand 1 (Luke Supyk 90+1′ pen)
Vanuatu 0

Fiji 3 (Petero Maivalenisau 45+2’, 90+3, own goal 50’)
Cook Islands 0

Games played on Saturday January 21, 2023

New Caledonia 4 (Jean-Philippe Angexetine 13’, Nolhann Alebate 45+3′, Jean-Yves Saiko 88′, Iwatro Hmuine 90+6′)
Samoa 0

Tahiti 5 (Dylan Hutia 18′, Titouan Guillemant 32′, 90+4′ Keanan Faure 68′, Turerearii Vonbalou 79′)
Tonga 0



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)

Play-off for third

Game to be played on Saturday January 28, 2023

HFC Bank Stadium, Suva (5pm, NZT)


Game to be played on Saturday January 28, 2023

HFC Bank Stadium, Suva (5pm, NZT)

READ MORE: Here’s all our coverage of the OFC U-17 Championship >>>>

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