Big win earns New Zealand semi-final berth at OFC U-19 Men’s Championship

posted in: National teams, News, OFC news

New Zealand are through to the semi-finals of the OFC U-19 Men’s Championship after a comfortable 5-0 victory against hosts Samoa.

The result puts New Zealand top of Group B and sure of a place in the last four, regardless of how their last group game on Friday against Papua New Guinea turns out.

The two finalists at the tournament will represent Oceania at next year’s FIFA U-20 Men’s World Cup in Chile.

WATCH: Highlights from New Zealand’s 5-0 win against Samoa at U-19 champs >>>>

Adama Coulibaly (5) on the attack against Samoa. Photo credit: OFC Media / DJ Mills /Phototek.

Defending OFC champions New Zealand caught the hosts napping in the opening minutes when Luke Supyk outmuscled the Samoan defence, before forcing a save from Joel Bartley, who tipped it onto the crossbar.

New Zealand’s early dominance paid dividends in the opening stages.

A cross from the right side of the pitch was initially dealt with by Samoa but Codey Phoenix was there on the follow-up, producing a great half-volley that nestled in the bottom corner

Phoenix had his second goal soon after, his high curling corner beating everyone including the goalkeeper, to the delight of the small Kiwi contingent in the crowd.

Samoa struggled to find any footing in the match — the wet weather certainly didn’t help — as the Kiwis peppered the hosts’ penalty area.

Eventually, the hosts broke again. Fergus Gillion smartly finished in the corner, after a great run and assist from Lachlan Candy.

Action was limited at the start of the second period of play but sparked into life around the 60th minute.

New Zealand’s Nathan Walker shot across the face of goal, narrowly missing the outstretched leg of Supyk at the back post.

New Zealand’s Stipe Ukich tries to keep possession against Samoa’s Juan Gobbi (11) and Philip Fatialofa (5). Photo credit: OFC Media / DJ Mills /Phototek.

Moments later, Lewis Partridge produced a delightful cross into the penalty box for Supyk, but Bartley made an amazing point-blank save to deny New Zealand their fourth goal.

The fourth goal finally arrived, with Partridge the beneficiary.

A low cross was sent into the box, and Supyk flicked it on for Gabriel Sloane-Rodrigues, whose point-blank shot was saved by Bartley. However, Partridge was there to pick up the loose ball and smash it home.

Samoa toiled away but couldn’t break down a sturdy New Zealand defence.

Captain Pharrell Trainor, who had been so effective up front against Papua New Guinea, was kept quiet.

A late fifth goal came via an unfortunate own goal as New Zealand finished strongly

The result means New Zealand are the first team to clinch a semi-final spot.

As for hosts Samoa, it will be a winner-takes-all final match against New Caledonia on Friday.

Coach Chris Greenacre’s post-match comments

After the match, New Zealand head coach Chris Greenacre downplayed his side’s 5-0 win against Samoa, saying the result flattered the team’s performance.

WATCH: Coach Chris Greenacre’s interview after New Zealand U-19s’ win >>>>

The jubilant New Caledonia side. Photo credit: OFC Media / DJ Mills /Phototek.

New Caledonia bounce back with 2-1 win against PNG

New Caledonia have beaten Papua New Guinea 2-1 after a tight tussle in Apia.

Both teams entered the match winless after suffering defeats to New Zealand and Samoa on match day 2 of the competition. That put extra pressure on Papua New Guinea and New Caledonia to get a result.

New Caledonia started the brighter of the two.

Speedster Paul Qaeze got into open field before charging at Daniel Sakora, who made a comfortable save at the near post. The resulting corner saw Yann Wahaga go within a whisker of scoring, his powerful header hitting the post.

Under siege from Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia turned defence into attack. A long ball put Qaeze into open space and, beating the goalkeeper with a tricky turn, he fired a shot just wide of the empty goal.

A sloppy tackle from Nelson Karaun on Jythrim Upa gifted New Caledonia a penalty.

Wahaga stepped up to take it, but Sakora made a fantastic save to deny him.

Papua New Guinea’s best chance came minutes from half-time, when Solomon Kamake made a great run driving into the box.

All he needed was to link with one of two players in the box for an easy tap-in, but his under-hit pass was intercepted.

Into added time, New Caledonia finally got the goal they had been searching for, with Quaze scoring with a terrific strike.

The ball fell fortuitously for the attacker after taking a lucky bounce off his teammate, and the New Caledonian curled it into the top corner.

New Caledonia went on the attack in the second period.

Photo credit: OFC Media / DJ Mills /Phototek.

Upa latched onto a great through ball but couldn’t beat Sakora, as the Papua New Guinea goalkeeper put his body on the line to make the save.

As heavy rain started to fall, the over-the-top long ball started coming into immediate effect from both teams. Goalkeeper Gabin Rachel put Qaeze in on goal, but PNG substitute keeper Lomani Nahiet was up to the task.

Rachel got lucky at the other end, when a cross-like shot from Papua New Guinea’s David Tita deceived the New Caledonia goalkeeper who thought the ball was heading over the crossbar.

Instead, the ball curled back in and hit the post, nearly leading to an equaliser.

For all their dominance in the second half, Papua New Guinea deservedly got an equaliser. An under-hit pass from captain Kandjo Teanyouen saw Tonny Sagana pounce on it, and he collided with Rachel before getting back up to score into an empty net.

But it was New Caledonia that had the final say.

Antonie Simane went unmarked at a free kick, bringing down the ball and dribbling past multiple Papua New Guinea defenders, to perfectly place the ball into the back of the net.

New Caledonia will look to finish their group stage on a positive note when they face Samoa later this week, while Papua New Guinea need to beat New Zealand to have any chance of advancing to the semi-finals.


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

Photo credit: OFC Media / DJ Mills / Phototek.


Games played on Tuesday July 9, 2024

Group B

Papua New Guinea 1 (Tonny Sagana 83′)
New Caledonia 2 (Paul Qaeze 45′, Antonie Simane 89′)

New Zealand 5 (Codey Phoenix 14′, 18′, Fergus Gillion 36′, Lewis Partridge 74′, own goal 90′)
Samoa 0

WATCH: Highlights from New Zealand’s 5-0 win against Samoa at U-19 champs >>>>

For full game replay, click link below:


Games to be played on Thursday July 11, 2024

Group A

Vanuatu v Fiji
FFS Football Stadium, Apia, Samoa, 11am (NZT)

Tahiti v Solomon Islands
FFS Football Stadium, Apia, Samoa, 2pm (NZT)

Games to be played on Friday July 12, 2024

Group B

New Zealand v Papua New Guinea
FFS Football Stadium, Apia, Samoa, 11am (NZT)

New Caledonia v Samoa
FFS Football Stadium, Apia, Samoa, 2pm (NZT)

This story was first published on July 7, 2024.

More football stories