All Whites power past Tahiti to clinch place in OFC Men’s Nations Cup final

New Zealand have secured their spot in the final of the OFC Men’s Nations Cup with a comfortable 5-0 victory over Tahiti at VFF Freshwater Stadium in Port Vila on Thursday.

Main photo: New Zealand’s Cam Howieson (left) and Ben Waine celebrate a goal during their team’s 5-0 win. Photo credit: OFC Media / Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

New Zealand head coach Darren Bazeley only made one change from the team that beat Vanuatu 4-0, with Ben Waine returning to the starting line-up to replace Max Mata.

Tahiti also made one forced replacement, with Kevin Barbe coming in for the injured Eddy Kaspard, who had hoped to play in front his Vanuatu family connections.

The other player with Vanuatu connections, Matatia Paama, also had to sit out the match due to his suspension following a red card against Papua New Guinea.

The last Tahiti victory over New Zealand was back in 1995, but coach Samual Garcia’s team were drawing confidence from a 0-1 loss in their last encounter during FIFA World Cup qualifying in 2022 in Qatar.

In the semi-final of that World Cup qualifying tournament, New Zealand struggled to break down the strong Tahitians, but on Thursday in Port Vila they quickly took the bit between the teeth.

Their early endeavour was rewarded after only eight minutes when Liberato Cacace’s free-kick was tipped onto the post, straight into the path of Finn Surman to tap home the rebound for his first goal for his country in his fourth appearance.

Cacace, who had not scored a goal since the Tahiti match in 2022, must have been wondering if he would ever score when he was again denied by the post only minutes later.

Tahiti took nearly 20 minutes to threaten the New Zealand goal, when Tyler Bindon cleared a dangerous corner off the line and a moment later, Tauhiti Keck tried to catch out goalkeeper Max Crocombe, but his long-range effort drifted wide.

New Zealand’s Ben Old is brought down. Photo credit: OFC Media / Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

New Zealand continued to create openings and finally got their reward on the stroke of half-time when a Kosta Barbarouses assist was expertly dispatched by Waine for his third goal of the tournament.

The provider turned goalscorer in injury time after a mazy run by Cacace put the ball on a platter for Barbarouses, who gave goalkeeper Teave Teamotuatitau little chance and virtually guaranteed New Zealand a place on Sunday’s final.

A few words of encouragement from Garcia at half-time spurred the Tahitians into action in the second period and captain Teaonui Tehau went agonisingly close to getting his team back into the contest, only to see his shot go over the crossbar.

Any hopes of a Tahiti comeback were extinguished when Player of the Match Cacace again stormed into the box and delivered a pinpoint cross for Waine to score his second brace of the tournament.

Barbarouses also got his double minutes later, following up on an initial attempt by substitute Alex Greive which was blocked on the line, taking his tally to seven goals in 59 caps, across a staggering 18 seasons.

New Zealand should have increased their tally, but some desperate defending and poor finishing spared Tahiti’s blushes.

Bazeley and his side will now wait to discover their opponents in the final, when Fiji take on Vanuatu in the day’s second semi-final.


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


Game played on Thursday June 27, 2024

New Zealand 5 (Finn Surman 7′, Ben Waine 45′, 53′, Kosta Barbarouses 45+3′, 72′)
Tahiti 0


New Zealand’s starting line-up. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

New Zealand

Max Crocombe, Tim Payne (Tommy Smith 25′), Finn Surman, Tyler Bindon (Sam Sutton 46′), Liberato Cacace (captain), Alex Rufer, Cam Howieson (Alex Greive 67′), Ben Waine (Max Mata 67′), Ben Old (Jesse Randall 79′), Kosta Barbarouses, Elijah Just.

Subs not used: Alex Paulsen, Oli Sail, Lukas Kelly-Heald, Oskar van Hattum, Fin Conchie.


Yellow: Tyler Bindon 39′.

Tahiti’s starting line-up. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.


Teave Teamotuaitau, Terai Bremond, Téva Pierre David Lossec, Matéo Degrumelle, Teaonui Tehau, Kévin Barbe, Tauhiti Keck, Manuarii Shan (Ariura Labaste 46′), Roonui Tinirauarii (Franck Papaura 66′), Taumihau Tiatia (Rainui Aroita 56′), Pothin Poma.

Subs not used: Tevaearai Tamatai, François Decoret, Haumau Tanetoa, Mauri Heitaa, Alvin Tehau, .


Yellow: Téva Pierre David Lossec 19′.


Referee: Veer Singh (Fiji)
Assistant referee: Malaetala Salanoa (Samoa)
Assistant referee: Folio Moeaki (Tonga)
Fourth official: David Yareboinen (Papua New Guinea)


Games to be played on Sunday June 30, 2024

Play-off for third place

Tahiti v loser semi-final 2
VFF Freshwater Stadium, Port Vila, Vanuatu, 12pm (NZT)


New Zealand v winner semi-final 2
VFF Freshwater Stadium, Port Vila, Vanuatu, 4pm (NZT)

More football stories