14 Jan 2015

Sport: NZ, PNG, New Caledonia U17s make winning start

1:13 pm on 14 January 2015

New Zealand have begun the defence of their Oceania Under 17 football title in emphatic style, with a 6-0 thumping of Fiji.

The Baby All Whites were 2-0 up inside 20 minutes and scored three goals in each half.

Fijian hopes weren't helped by a second half red card for Afraz Ali when the midfielder opted to palm the ball off the goal line, while a second penalty was conceded late in the game.

Fiji co-coach Kamal Swamy acknowledges it was a tough night at the office but is staying optimistic.

"The first three goals we gave it to them. It was poor defending - that's what we were talking about and once we got numbers in the box they were not able to score so even with ten players we were able to contain certain attacks where we were making mistakes in. If we play as a group we would have got a better result [or] at least less goals scored against us".

New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea were also impressive in 3-0 victories over Samoa and the Cook Islands respectively.

The Francophones could have had more goals against the home side but Samoa keeper Taase Hunt proved tough to beat between the sticks.

Samoa coach Desmond Faai'uaso was thrilled with the way his players laid their bodies on the line.

"So proud of my boys because this is their first time playing an international series - especially those young boys under 15 years old so I'm so proud of them".

Despite a winning start, PNG coach Harrison Kamake still wants more from his players.

"There's a lot of improvements that we need to do at this stage. It's the first game of the tournament [and] we expected that the boys would be nervous at the start. It showed in the first half we were struggling a bit but the boys did the job in the end. The footwork was there, the ball movement was there but the finishing off was not there for us so we just need to work on that".

The competition moves to Pago Pago today on Tuesday local time for Group B with hosts American Samoa opening up against Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands taking on newcomers Tonga.

American Samoa coach Uinifareti Aliva says they have been preparing for the past two months and are looking forward to playing in front of their home supporters.

Their best performances at this level include a win over Cook Islands and a draw with Samoa during the Preliminary round two years ago, and a draw with the Cook Islands in the tournament-proper in 2003.

The overall winner qualifies for the U17 World Cup in Chile later this year.