Young All Whites side makes sure of semi-final spot at OFC Men’s Nations Cup

Six players earned their debut caps for the All Whites as their side secured a comfortable 3-0 win against the Solomon Islands at the OFC Men’s Nations Cup in Vanuatu.

The result ends the tournament for the Solomon Islands, while New Zealand will meet Vanuatu on Friday to decide who finishes top of Group A, with both sides assured of a semi-final place.

The Kiwis started two debutants, with goalkeeper Alex Paulsen and Sam Sutton making their international bows, while the Solomon Islands made four changes from their loss to Vanuatu on Saturday.

The omission of Rafa Le’ai was the major talking point as coach Jacob Moli opted for a more conservative line-up with five defenders.

Before the match, a minute silence was observed for former New Zealand Football chief executive Bob Patterson, who was a key figure in football in his home country and across the Oceania Football Confederation.

Solomon Islands goalkeeper Phillip Mango punches the ball clear. Photo credit: OFC Media / Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

The Solomon Islands had caused New Zealand teams many problems in the past and head coach Darren Bazeley was keen for his young team to make an early mark and not let their skilful opponents get into their famous flow.

The Englishman got his dream start when a quick Ben Waine double took the sting out of the match after only 11 minutes.

The Plymouth Argyle forward had scored only once before in his previous 13 internationals but doubled that tally after five minutes when he turned his defender to rifle home from close range.

Waine quickly doubled the lead six minutes later following a beautiful assist from Tim Payne, virtually ending the last hopes of progressing for Jacob Moli and this side.

Main photo: Ben Waine … scored an early double to set New Zealand on track for their win. Photo credit: OFC Media / Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

The courageous Solomon Islands team refused to throw in the towel and kept pushing forward when possible, which was nearly rewarded when Gagame Feni ‘s stinging shot nearly found the top corner.

Coach Moli switched to a more attacking line-up as the game wore on, bringing on trump card Le’ai, but the New Zealand defence, with 20-year-old Finn Surman and 19-year-old Tyler Bindon in the centre, stood firm against the increased pressure.

Surman’s eyes lit up at the other end when he was allowed a free header from a New Zealand corner only to be denied by goalkeeper Phillip Mango. However, the ball dropped straight to Kosta Barbarouses who converted from close range to make it three.

New Zealand midfielder Alex Rufer was awarded the Player of the Match. Photo credit: OFC Media / Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

Solomons Islands worked hard to get back into the match, but Le’ai saw his shot go wide and Javin Alick’s long-range effort left goalkeeper Paulsen untroubled.

Coach Moli emptied his bench in a bid to avoid elimination, while Bazeley gave Jesse Randall, Oskar van Hattum, Lukas Kelly-Heald and Fin Conchie their first cap for New Zealand.

Encouraged by a large crowd at VFF Freshwater Stadium, the courageous Solomon Islanders ran their socks off till the bitter end to at least get on the scoreboard. Rafa Le’ai came agonisingly close to doing so but his low effort thudded off the post in stoppage time.

The result confirms who will advance from Group A, with Friday’s fixture between New Zealand and Vanuatu to determine who tops the section heading into the semi-finals.

READ MORE: ‘We’ll be better for it’ — coach Darren Bazeley after All Whites’ opening win >>>>

WATCH: Highlights from All Whites 3-0 win against Solomon Islands >>>>


We are grateful for the help of OFC Media in providing information for this story.


Game played on Tuesday June 18, 2024

New Zealand 3 (Ben Waine 6′, 11′, Kosta Barbarouses 45+4′)
Solomon Islands 0



The New Zealand starting line-up.

New Zealand

Alex Paulsen, Tyler Bindon, Tim Payne (Lukas Kelly-Heald 76′), Finn Surman, Sam Sutton, Cam Howieson (Fin Conchie 82′), Alex Rufer, Kosta Barbarouses (captain), Elijah Just (Oskar van Hattum 76′), Ben Old (Jesse Randall 63′), Ben Waine (Max Mata 63′).

Subs not used: Oli Sail, Max Crocombe, Alex Greive.



The Solomon Islands starting line-up.

Solomon Islands

Phillip Mango, Calvin Ohasio, Javin Alick, Allen Peter (Raphael Lea’i 35′), Prince Tahunipue (Tigi Molea 46′), Leon Kofana (David Supa 46′), Atkin Kaua (Hudson Oreinima 66′), Junior David, Joses Nawo, Gagame Feni, John Orohulu (Hudyn Irodao 66′).

Subs not used: Harold Nauania, Steven Koti, Junior Fordney Paomae, Bobby Leslie, Marlon Tahioa Nonone, Michael Laulae.


Yellow: Orohulu (25′).


Referee: David Yareboinen (Papua New Guinea)
Assistant referees: Folio Moeaki (Tonga), Malaetala Salanoa (Samoa)
Fourth official: Teremoana Roihau (Tahiti)
Fifth official: Vaihina Teura (Tahiti)
Assessor: Rakesh Varman (Fiji)


Game to be played on Friday June 21, 2024, 2024

New Zealand v Vanuatu
VFF Fresh Water Stadium, Port Vila, 4pm (NZT)

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