Defending champions New Zealand have made an impressive start to their OFC Futsal Nations Cup 2023 campaign with a 6-3 win over Vanuatu in their Group A opener at Auckland’s Bruce Pulman Arena.
The damage was done in a blistering first-half performance from the Futsal Whites who were simply superb in front of goal, ending the game as a contest in the first spell with five different players finding the back of the net to give Marvin Eakins’ side a 5-0 lead at the break.
To their credit, Vanuatu fought back in the second spell, winning the half 3-1.
New Zealand skipper Dylan Manickum led from the front and fired his side into a second-minute lead with a blistering right foot shot which beat Vanuatu goalkeeper Anthony Quai at his near post.
Main photo: Dylan Manickum started the goal rush with the opener after two minutes. Photo credit: OFC / Phototek.
Stephen Ashby Peckham came close to doubling the lead on a couple of occasions as New Zealand laid siege on the Vanuatu goal.
Vanuatu’s best chance in the opening stanza fell to Kevin Donald in the 7th minute but his shot on target was well blocked by Mike Antamanov in the New Zealand goal.
New Zealand duly doubled their lead in the 9th minute when Rahan Ali blasted home after a superb pass from Oban Hawkins.
Logan Wiesnewski made it 3-0 three minutes later with a curling right-foot shot into the corner after a freekick was played square across the goal.
The Futsal Whites suffered an injury setback late in the half when Antamanov hobbled off with a lower leg injury and was replaced by Patrick Steele.
There was still time for New Zealand to score two goals in the final two minutes of the half with impressive strikes from Casey Sharplin and Oban Hawkins.
When Sharplin scored the sixth goal for New Zealand five minutes into the second spell, it looked as if the Kiwis would run away with it.
But Vanuatu never gave up and were rewarded three minutes later when captain Michel Coulon scrambled the ball home after putting the Kiwi defence under pressure.
Then, two minutes later, Kemly Lehi fired home to finish a sweeping move down the court after Vanuatu won a turnover in the New Zealand half.
Kevin Donald, with a lovely finish scored Vanuatu’s third goal three minutes from the end, and although they didn’t win, the second-half performance will give Vanuatu plenty of confidence for their remaining fixtures against Tonga and Fiji.
New Zealand’s next game is on Monday against Fiji, who won their opener 9-0 against Tonga.
Acknowledgement: Match report provided by OFC Media.
New Zealand’s Player of the Match Dylan Manickum was interviewed after the game by OFC Media:
Watch the game
Games played on Sunday October 1, 2023
New Zealand 6 (Dylan Manickum 2’, Rahan Ali 9’, Logan Wisnewski 12’, Casey Sharplin 19’, 25’, Oban Hawkins 20’)
Vanuatu 3 (Michel Coulon 28′, Kemly Lehi 30′, Kevin Donald 27′)
Fiji 9 (Ramzan Khan ‘8, Merrill Nand 13′ 40′, Bruce Hughes 18′, 26′, Filipe Baravilala 21′, 23′ 38′, Rajneel Singh 26’)
Tahiti 5 (Michel Maihuri 17′ 36′, Vincent Tinomoe 29′, Keanu Maihuri 30′, 34′)
Solomon Islands 2 (Micah Lea’alafa 22’, 30’)
New Caledonia 2 (Christ Pei 6’, Emmanuel Hmaen 16’)
New Zealand Futsal Whites squad
Rahan Ali | Moreland Futsal
Mike Antamanov | Auckland City FC
Stephen Ashby-Peckham | Auckland City FC
Jordan Ditfort | Bloomsbury Futsal
Hamish Grey | Unattached
Oban Hawkins | Southern United
Dylan Manickum | Auckland City FC
Ethan Martin | Waikato Rapids
Adam Paulsen | Auckland City FC
Thomas Picken | Auckland City FC
Casey Sharplin | Waikato Rapids
Patrick Steele | Waikato Rapids
Art Twigg | Auckland City FC
Logan Wisnewski | Bloomsbury Futsal
OFC Futsal Nations Cup — tournament schedule
Entry to the Bruce Pulman Arena is free for all games until finals day on Saturday October 7, 2023.
New Zealand fixtures
Game to be played on Monday October 2, 2023
New Zealand v Fiji
Bruce Pulman Arena, Takanini, 7pm (NZT)
Game to be played on Wednesday October 4, 2023
New Zealand v Tonga
Bruce Pulman Arena, Takanini, 4pm (NZT)
Semi-finals will take place on Thursday October 5 and the finals on Saturday October 7.
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