New Zealand have won the OFC Futsal Nations Cup and will represent the Oceania region at the 2024 FIFA Futsal World Cup in Uzbekistan after a hard-fought win over Tahiti.
Perhaps as expected, the early exchanges were high on intensity but low on chances as both sides took their turns to try and work the other out.
Rahan Ali almost gave the Kiwis the perfect start when well placed only a couple of yards out but from Dylan Manickum’s centre, he could only connect with the heel of his boot and the ball squirmed away from the goal.
Three minutes later, however, the net did ripple. New Zealand took advantage of a lapse in Tahitian concentration and Stephen Ashby-Peckham lashed high into the top corner after being teed up from a quick kick-in.
From then on Tahiti worked hard to find a way back into the final. Oliver Hirihiri went close when his right-footed effort flashed over the bar, before Akareva Riaria saw one attempt saved by goalkeeper Mike Antamanov and the resulting follow-up crash off the crossbar.
Keanu Maihuri was then presented with a excellent chance to draw level but his near-post attempt was well saved.
Early in the second period New Zealand came within a whisker of doubling their lead. Rahan Ali turned his marker well and his low effort smacked off not one but both posts, somehow staying out and keeping Tahiti within a goal.
Ashby-Peckham had a glorious opportunity to grab his second a minute later but side-footed against the frame of the goal as Tahiti survived another scare.
A second did arrive for New Zealand with just under half an hour played. Dylan Manickum broke on the counter attack and after his effort was well saved by Puarea Roe, Jordan Ditfort was on hand to tuck away the rebound.
A couple of minutes later, it was 3-0. Manickum again involved when his effort deflected back into the path of Thomas Picken who made no mistake from a couple of yards out.
With Tahiti pushing forward in search of a foothold in the game, New Zealand took full advantage.
Captain Manickum won the ball on the halfway line and with Tahiti having pulled their goalkeeper, calmly rolled the ball into an empty net to confirm victory for his side a ticket to Uzbekistan next year for the World Cup.
A consolation for Tahiti proved elusive, Vincent Tinomoe’s close-range flick seemingly destined for the net before being cleared off the line.
Another goal was added to the tally but at the other end, Hamish Grey finding space in a central position and slotting into the corner to put a full stop to proceedings.
Acknowledgement: Match report provided by OFC Media.
Main photo: The Futsal Whites have done it! They’ve booked their place at next year’s World Cup. Photo credit: NZ Football.
Watch the match
Games played on Saturday October 7, 2023
New Zealand 5 (Stephen Ashby-Peckham 6′, Jordan Ditfort 28′, Thomas Picken 29′, Dylan Manickum 33′, Hamish Grey 39′)
Play-off for 3rd
Fiji 3 (Bruce Hughes 27’ 35’ Filipe Baravilala 39′)
Solomon Islands 5 (Charlie Otainao 10’ Elis Mana 16’ 36’ 37’ Marlon Sia 38’)
Play-off for 5th
Vanuatu 3 (Kemly Lehi 4′, Jayso Timatua 7′, Sandy Mesau 21′)
New Caledonia 5 (Emmanuel Hmaen 17′, Jymaël Upa 24′, Nicolas Foubert 26′, Christ Pei 36′, 38′)
Play-off for 7th
Tonga 3 (Hemaloto Polovili 5′, Tevita Falepapalangi 17′, Maloni Manu’olevao 34′)
Samoa 4 (Vaa Taualai 6′, 29′ 39′, Falaniko Nanumea 31′)
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
About the 2024 FIFA Futsal World Cup
The tournament will be staged in Uzbekistan from September 14 – October 6, 2024.
It will be the 10th Futsal World Cup and 24 teams will participate, including the host nation and New Zealand.
The rest of the qualifiers will come from tournaments to be held next year, with the following numbers of teams to earn places at the Uzbekistan tournament: Asia (3, as well as hosts Uzbekistan), Africa (3), Central, North America and Caribbean (4), South America (4) and Europe (7).
Portugal are the current holders of the World Cup.
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