22 Mar 2013

Sport: NZ, Fiji win opening U20 football qualifiers

11:28 am on 22 March 2013

New Zealand have begun the defence of their Oceania Under 20 football title in ominous fashion, thrashing Papua New Guinea 5-0 in Lautoka on Thursday.

It didn't take long for the Junior All Whites to find the back of the net, with midfielder Louis Fenton converting a penalty in the opening five minutes.

Fenton made it 2-0 in the 11th minute before Hamish Watson connected with a Fenton corner just before halftime for the third.

Two further goals came in the second spell and it could have been much worse for PNG, if it wasn't for goalkeer Charles Lepani, who made a string of excellent saves.

In the earlier match, Fiji fought back from a 2-0 deficit at half time to defeat Vanuatu 3-2.

Dalong Damalip fired home for the visitors in just the opening minute before Zica Manuhi doubled the lead midway through the half.

Fiji coach Ravinesh Kumar says at halftime he told the team to play their hearts out and fight for their country, and that if they scored one goal they would go on to win 3-2.

That prophecy came true with the home side scoring in the 58th and 68th minutes, before super-sub Rusiate Matarerega headed home the winner with just six minutes remaining.