Qantas Futsalroos a step closer to World Cup
Australia have taken a giant step towards qualification for the 2004 FIFA Futsal World Championship with a hard-fought 4-0 win over New Zealand at the AIS Arena in Canberra. The match was a typically physical and combative trans-Tasman contest with the Aussies looking like they would be kept scoreless in the first half until Damian Pilat converted
Australia have taken a giant step towards qualification for the 2004 FIFA Futsal World Championship with a hard-fought 4-0 win over New Zealand at the AIS Arena in Canberra. The match was a typically physical and combative trans-Tasman contest with the Aussies looking like they would be kept scoreless in the first half until Damian Pilat converted a free-kick with a fierce low drive. The Australians took control as the second half progressed and after New Zealand captain Nathan Robertson struck the frame of the goal, the Qantas Futsalroos ensured victory with goals to Brett Hewitt, Scott Manson and Simon Keith.
The Solomon Islands scored a rousing 6-3 win over Samoa in the early match, the first victory for the nation competing in what is their debut international Futsal tournament. The three goal losing margin was harsh on the Samoans who competed well in a fast and physical game holding the Solomons to 3-3 until deep into the second half. The Solomon Islanders, fielding a team comprised entirely of outdoor players including U-23 internationals Jerry Sam and captain Lency Saeni, lead 2-1 at the interval and then 3-2, before Samoa equalised through Philipo Bureta - the spectacular long-range strike a candidate for goal of the tournament.
Vanuatu produced an impressive display to record a 5-1 win over Pacific rivals Fiji in the second match of the evening. Vanuatu, mentored by national team coach Carlos Buzzetti - the architect of the nations famous win over New Zealand in the recent World Cup qualifiers - showed an impressive mix of close skills and technical ability throughout and raced to a 3-0 half time lead. Vanuatu move to second on the table courtesy of their superior goal difference and will now be casting an eye ahead to their final match on Thursday against Australia as the team looks to replicate the success achieved by the under-23 and senior national teams.
The Australians now lead the competition table with six points, from Vanuatu, Fiji, New Zealand and Solomon Islands all on three points with Samoa yet to open their account.
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