New Zealand And Fiji Secure Vital Wins

New Zealand has beaten the Solomon Islands 3-0 at the Marden Sports Complex in Adelaide today, while in the latter game at Hindmarsh Stadium, Fiji overcame Vanuatu 1-0.

New Zealand has beaten the Solomon Islands 3-0 at the Marden Sports Complex in Adelaide today, while in the latter game at Hindmarsh Stadium, Fiji overcame Vanuatu 1-0.

At Marden, Brent Fisher-s first half strike was added to by substitute Duncan Oughton and Aaran Lines late in the game to secure a vital three points for the Kiwis, despite being convincingly outplayed for large segments of the match.

Ultimately though, the clinical presence of the All Whites won out in the end, leaving a determined Solomon Islands side heartbroken after a monumental performance.

“It-s disappointing, I would have been disappointed at 1-0 because their first goal annoyed me,” said a slightly disconsolate Solomons coach Allan Gillett.

“I-ve spoken to them and their chins are down, but we-ll learn a lot from that.   Despite the cutthroat nature of proceedings, both sides put forth an entertaining and enthralling spectacle that featured no shortage of tension and drama.

Arguably, it was the underdog Solomons who had the better of the opening stanza. Alan Gillett-s men should have taken a 2nd minute lead after former Sydney United striker Commins Menapi ran on to a superb through ball from Stanley Waita, but Menapi lost his stride and composure as he neared goal and saved the Kiwis blushes.

Their endeavour almost bore fruit in the latter stages of the half when strike pairing Menapi and Batram Suri tested All Whites ‘keeper Mark Paston in quick succession, only to be denied by some desperate saves by the Bradford custodian.

Aside from Simon Elliott-s powerful drive that rattled the crossbar in the 32nd minute, New Zealand-s attacking movements were largely confined to Fisher-s goal late in the half.

The match opener arrived after skipper Elliott-s determined run carved some space for former Northern Spirit striker Fisher, who was allowed to control and place home for his first senior international goal.

In the second half the Solomons did not only match the Kiwis - they completely outplayed them.

Within five minutes of the restart Menapi had come within a breath of levelling the match on two occasions.

Most notably, Menapi did fantastically well to charge down Paston in the penalty area and shy his effort agonizingly close to goal from an impossible angle.

But, alas, for all their efforts, the Solomons lacked out in the final third at both ends and this was exemplified when Oughton doubled the Kiwis lead on 81 minutes.

Solomons ‘keeper Severino Aefi, who had an otherwise sound match, came off his line to collect a harmless clearance from the Kiwis, only to collide inconspicuously with the on rushing Oughton, who had only to direct a simple shot towards goal following Aefi-s fumble.

This effectively killed off the Solomons ascendancy and Lines- last minute goal was a mere formality for the demoralized Solomons defense.

All Whites coach Mick Waitt did not mince words when describing his teams performance.

“We were poor,” said Waitt after the match. “With an ounce of luck they could-ve caused an upset.   “I-m embarrassed, but at the end of the day, we-ve got the result that we needed and down the track people will just look at the game and see that we won 3-0.”   Meanwhile, a horrendous goalkeeping blunder was all that separated Fiji and Vanuatu on a chilly and drizzly night at Adelaide-s Hindmarsh Stadium in a match that never really reached any great heights.

Veresa Toma-s 74th minute match winner arrived in comical circumstances, after an unbelievable error from Vanuatu-s goalkeeper and captain David Chilia.

With a comfortable amount of time to calculate a pass, Chilia spurned a slow moving kick straight into the path of Fiji-s intimidating marksman, who almost returned the favour with a mistimed and weak shot that barely trickled over the goal line.

Nevertheless, it was a winner the Fijians most probably deserved after having the better of what was a torridly contested encounter. Vanuatu-s best chance came in just the second minute when Queensland Premier League striker Richard Iwai volleyed a Lorry Thompsen cross towards goal, forcing a fantastic save from Fiji custodian Laisienia Tuba.

For the Fijians, Laisiasa Gataurua should have given his side the lead after 17 minutes when presented with an open goal following a neat layoff from goal scorer Toma. Unfortunately for Tony Buesnel-s men, Vanuatu ‘keeper Chilia proved too greater an obstacle for the pint sized midfielder, ultimately seconding the sides to a 0-0 deadlock at the break.

The second half featured much of the same, as both sides struggled to mount serious efforts when entering the final third of the field.

Toma-s droll goal was a fitting finale to a match that has made it a near impossibility for Vanuatu to qualify for stage three in what was their second consecutive match without hitting the back of the net.

The Fijians live to fight another day and have now emerged as the greatest threat to New Zealand in the coming matches.