Nations Cup Final Round Wash Up

New Zealand's victory over Fiji proved not enough for them to finish second on the table, while in the battle for the wooden spoon, a late goal gave Tahiti victory over Vanuatu.

Tahiti v Vanuatu   A ten man Tahiti have claimed their only victory of the 2004 OFC Nations Cup by coming from behind to upset Vanuatu 2-1 at the Marden Sports Complex today.   Tahiti has Gabriel Wajoka to thank for their first victory in five games, after the PTT marksman netted an injury time winner that has lifted the Polynesians off the foot of the OFC Nations Cup ladder.   Richard Iwai-s match opener preceded Wajoka-s winner on 23 minutes for the Vanuatuans, which was later cancelled out by Axel Temataua-s strike just before half time - Tahiti-s first of the tournament.   After abysmal showings in their past three games, Tahiti looked a changed side for today-s encounter and thoroughly their victory, especially considering they played the last 35 minutes without captain Samuel Garcia, who was sent off following his second yellow card for a dangerous tackle.   The Tahitians would have considered themselves unlucky to go in level at half time, having put in a vastly improved performance than that to their previous losses to Australia and New Zealand.   For all their ambition though, Tahiti surrendered a goal to their opponents- midway through the half when Iwai celebrated his return from injury with his first goal of the tournament.   Iwai-s match opener came after a delightful through ball from Mitchelton teammate Etienne Mermer, which was smoothly finished off by the Vanuatuan front man.   Tahiti-s equalizer arrived in the latter stages of the first stanza when Temataua was on hand to tap in a neat layoff from Vincent Simon.   Simon made a fantastic run into the box following a swiftly taken free kick and did marvelously well to put the equalizer on a platter for Temataua.   Following Garcia-s dismissal in the 55th minute, few would have anticipated Tahiti to maintain their ascendancy and up until the commencement of injury time, it seemed as though they wouldn-t.   But, much to the delight of the Tahitian bench Wajoka-s mazy run down the left wing resulted in a stoppage time winner for the Tahitians, which doomed the luckless Vanuatuans to last place in the 2004 Nations Cup.   Tahiti now leave Adelaide with their heads high, following what was a poor tournament by their ambitious standards.   The consistency of defender Angelo Tchen will be looked kindly upon by coach Gerard Kautai, so to the relentless work of winger Simon, another one of the Tahitians rare bright sparks.   Vanuatu will have bittersweet memories of their fourth consecutive Nations Cup, having defeated New Zealand, only to lose by slim margins to island opposition.   Carlos Buzzetti-s young team has plenty to look forward to in future years, with sub 18 year olds Jean Maleb, Geoffrey Gete and Roger Joe all showing maturity beyond their years over the past week.   Tahiti: 19. Daniel Tapeta (gk), 2. Angelo Tchen, 3. Pierre Kugogne, 7. Samuel Garcia, 8. Billy Mataitai, 9. Gabriel Wajoka, 10. Axel Temataua, 12. Farahia Teuira, 13. Vincent Simon, 15. Larry Marmouyet, 16. Felix Tagawa   Bookings: Garcia 32-, Garcia RC 54- Goals: Temataua 40-, Wajoka 89-   Vanuatu: 20. Charly Kalsanei (gk), 3. Manley Tabe (2. Geoffrey Gete 67-), 4. Lexa Bibi, 6. Graham Demas, 7. Fedy Vava, 9. Seimata Chilia (17. Jean Maleb 63-), 10. Etienne Mermer, 12. Lorry Thompsen (8. Joe Ture 77-), 13. Richard Iwai, 14. Pita Maki, 19. Roger Joe   Bookings: Iwai 35-, Kalsanei 58-, Maleb 86- Goals: Iwai 23-   Referee: Leone Rakaroi   New Zealand v Fiji   New Zealand ended their 2006 World Cup campaign with a hard fought 2-0 win over Fiji in the first match at Hindmarsh Stadium tonight.   The All Whites were made to work for what was a less than convincing victory, but an important one at the time for the reigning OFC champs who, it seemed, had done enough to ensure their passage through to the next stage.   Veteran duo Che Bunce and Vaughan Coveny (pictured above) were the scorers for the All Whites, with both goals coming in the opening minutes of either half.   The All Whites superior fitness won over in the end, as a tiresome Fijian side ultimately had no answer the Kiwis less than perfect game that brought a forgettable campaign to a close.   Any resistance the Fijians could muster was effectively killed off in just the eighth minute when Bunce rose above a pack of Fijian defenders to expose their brittleness to set plays for not the first time this tournament.   The teams went to the break at 1-0 and although the Fijians had proved to be a stern test to the Kiwis, they had not created any notable chances of their own.   The second half started much the same as the first, with Vaughan Coveny ensuring a New Zealand victory with a well-taken header from Brent Fisher-s cross after 56 minutes.   The Kiwi-s third win of the tournament had many predicting a Trans Tasman playoff in October of this year and then September of 2005, but, alas, the Solomon Islands stole the All Whites thunder in the final match of the competition, meaning the Kiwis face up to six years in international purgatory following their deplorable displays in Adelaide.   New Zealand: 1. Mark Paston (gk), 2. Duncan Oughton, 4. Steven Old, 5. Che Bunce, 6. Tony Lochhead, 7. Ivan Vicelich, 8. Aaran Lines, 13. Brent Fisher (19. Neil Jones 81-), 14. Ryan Nelsen, 16. Vaughan Coveny, 17. Raf De Gregorio (11. Leo Bertos 60-)   Goals: Bunce 8-, Coveny 56-   Fiji: 1. Simione Tamanisau (gk), 2. Lorima Dau, 6. Jone Vesikula, 7. Malakai Kainihewe (11. Luke Vidovi 33-), 9. Thomas Vulivuli (17. Seveci Rokotakala 81-), 12. Esala Masi (22. Waisake Sabutu 51-), 13. Taniela Waqa, 15. Salesh Kumar, 16. Viliame Toma, 18. Laisiasa Gataurua, 21. Pene Erenio   Referee: Claus Bo Larsen (Denmark)