26 Mar 2012

Sport: NZ to represent Oceania in Olympic football tournament

11:38 am on 26 March 2012

A solitary strike was enough for New Zealand's Under 23 football team did just enough to secure their berth at the London Olympics.

The Oly-Whites beat Fiji 1-0 in yesterday's Oceania qualifying final in Taupo, with Greg Draper's 18th minute penalty proving enough for the home side.

Fiji rallied until the end, hitting the woodwork twice in the second half.

Technical director Carlos Buzzetti says despite coming up just short the team still achieved a lot.

"When we come here we did not come with any hope to say we would be in the final, we would see what happen. You don't expect to be in the final because other teams are better but, the reality is, we play well; we played better with each game; we reached the final and you played New Zealand and New Zealand is New Zealand so they were very difficult, we know that. I think the boys can hold their heads high because they've done a really good job today."

Carlos Buzzetti says a number of the Fiji squad have shown over the past fortnight that they will be strong contenders to take part in June's Oceania Nations Cup.

Meanwhile Vanuatu pipped Papua New Guinea 1-0 in the bronze playoff final.

Their coach Richard Iwai says that's a pretty good result after a tough fortnight.

Papua New Guinea is playing very good soccer but we were lucky with our young striker - he scored the goals - and our defence tried to hold on until the end because the tournament was two weeks and the boys have been tired.