Vanuatu captain ruled out of crucial quarter-final against New Zealand

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Vanuatu will be without captain Paul Takaro when they meet New Zealand in Sunday evening’s sudden death quarter-final at the OFC U-17 Championship in Fiji.

New Zealand must win to keep alive their campaign to qualify for November’s FIFA U-17 World Cup in Peru.

They play Vanuatu at 8pm (NZT) on Sunday January 22 in the last of four quarter-finals.

Takaro has been ruled out of the match due to two yellow cards he received during his team’s pool games.

Confusion followed as the Vanuatu team manager, Stephane Bong, was initially told the skipper could play as all group stage bookings were not carried forward.

Later, he was told he had been wrongly informed and Takaro would not be able to take the field against New Zealand.

New Zealand head coach Martin Bullock has rotated his squad at the tournament with no player completing two games, to keep his side fresh.

The starting line-up against Vanuatu may well be what he considers his best combination as defeat will send the side home.

Victory will pit New Zealand against either host nation Fiji or the Cook Islands in Wednesday’s semi-final, and the winner of that game will gain automatic qualification for the Peru World Cup.

Main photo: The New Zealand squad. Credit: NZ Football.


New Zealand go into Sunday’s game after beating American Samoa 11-0 and New Caledonia 3-2.

Vanuatu lost 2-1 to Tahiti in their opening pool game but then beat the Cook Islands 2-1 to finish runners-up in their group.

How to watch

New Zealand’s game against Vanuatu will be live-streamed.

You can watch it here >>>>

New Zealand squad

Adam Watson (Stoke City FC, England)
Anaru Cassidy (Wellington Phoenix FC, New Zealand)
Anton Isaako (Sydney FC, Australia)
Bronson Brown (Auckland United FC, New Zealand)
Dylan Gardiner (Hamilton Wanderers FC, New Zealand)
Eamonn McCarron (Wellington Phoenix FC, New Zealand)
Eric Imachi Sugahara (Cashmere Technical, New Zealand)
Gabriel Sloane Rodrigues (Wellington Phoenix FC, New Zealand)
Harrison Tisch (Wellington Phoenix FC, New Zealand)
Harry Huxford (Havelock North Wanderers AFC, New Zealand)
Jackson Cole (Christchurch United FC, New Zealand)
James Ray (Auckland United FC, New Zealand)
Jesper Edwards (Wellington Phoenix FC, New Zealand)
Joshua Brown (Western Suburbs, New Zealand)
Konstantino Gorgiovski (FK Makedonija G.P., North Macedonia)
Luka Coveny (Western United FC, Australia)
Luke Flowerdew (Wellington Phoenix FC, New Zealand)
Luke Supyk (Wellington Phoenix FC, New Zealand)
Marley Leuluai (Manchester City, England)
Matt D’Hotman (Melville United AFC, New Zealand)
Matt Foord (Cashmere Technical, New Zealand)
Nicholas Murphy (Christchurch United FC, New Zealand)
Niko Bruce (Western Suburbs, New Zealand)
Ryan Lee (North Wellington AFC, New Zealand)

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