16 Jan 2015

Sport: NZ and New Caledonia U17s in box seat

11:35 am on 16 January 2015

New Zealand and New Caledonia continued their march towards the semi-finals at the Oceania Under 17 football Championship in Apia, with big victories over Samoa and the Cook Islands in Group A.

Both teams have a maximum six points after two rounds with the top two in each group advancing to the knockout stage.

The Young All Whites had the hosts on the back foot early, netting an own goal in just the fourth minute, and the goals continued to come at regular intervals, with Logan Rogerson and Jack Anderson both netting hat-tricks in the 9-1 win.

Samoa did manage the last word, however, with Frank Mariner scoring a screamer in the final minute, and coach Desmond Faai'uaso was philosophical about the result.

"I didn't know that they could play like this but I think all the effort and strength they put 100 per cent into playing New Zealand...New Zealand is the best team, but we tried our best to beat them. Hard luck to my boys but I take my hat off to them for their performance."

New Caledonia also opened the scoring in the fourth minute against the Cook Islands

and doubled their advantage less than 60 seconds later.

Cook Islands weren't ready to give up however, and Rouruina Mariri finished an impressive counter attack in the 10th minute to bring his side back in contention.

But from that point on it was all New Caledonia who led 3-1 at halftime and added five more after the break.

Head coach Kamali Fitialeata says his players took the opportunities and it was good to see them finding the back of the net.

In the earlier game, Papua New Guinea were left ruing missed opportunities after being forced to settle for a goal-less draw with Fiji.

Hoping to build on an opening round victory over the Cook Islands, PNG missed two penalties attempts, making for a frustrated coach Harrison Kamake.

"It's one of those games. We had it but we just gave it away. I am happy with the performance - we had most of the game dominated by us but we couldn't convert our chances".

Group B action resumes in Pago Pago today on Thursday local time with American Samoa up against Tahiti and Vanuatu looking to make it two from two against Tonga.