20 Jan 2015

Sport: NZ into U17 football semis, Tahiti, Vanuatu poised to join them

12:10 pm on 20 January 2015

The New Zealand Under 17 men's football team edged New Caledonia 5-4 in a pulsating clash at the Oceania Championship in Apia to become the first team to qualify for the semi finals.

The Young All Whites remain unbeaten at the top of Group A with a maximum 12 points, three clear of the Francophones.

Papua New Guinea are a further two points back after thrashing Samoa 5-0 and will join New Zealand in the final four in they beat New Caledonia on Wednesday.

Fiji grabbed their first win of the tournament with a 5-0 drubbing of the Cook Islands.

In Group B, Tahiti and Vanuatu are poised to join the defending champions in the knockout round.

Tahiti have racked up 24 unanswered goals in two matches and will leap-frog Vanuatu at the top of Group B with another victory.

But Jacob Moli's Solomons squad are desperate to bounce back from a narrow defeat to their Melanesian rivals and need to win to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Top of the table Vanuatu have the bye but will qualify for the final four without kicking a ball if Tahiti can maintain their winning ways.

The late game between co-hosts American Samoa and Tonga has no bearing on the playoff race but both sides won't be lacking for motivation as they go after their first win of the tournament.