14 Sep 2016

Sport: Vanuatu Under 20s qualify for first World Cup

1:27 pm on 14 September 2016

Vanuatu is heading to the FIFA Under 20 Men's World Cup after Frederick Massing scored deep into injury time to clinch a 2-1 win over Solomon Islands in Port Vila.

The midfielder's 94th minute strike ensured a fourth successive victory for the home team and a place in Saturday's OFC Championship final against New Zealand.

Solomon Islands had taken the lead in the 21st minute when Joe Gise's free kick eluded goalkeeper Willie Dick.

Joe Gise's goal gave Solomon Islands the early lead.

Joe Gise's goal gave Solomon Islands the early lead. Photo: OFC via Phototek

But the home side equalised 15 minutes later when Godine Tenene smashed a half-volley past Solomons custodian Desmond Tutu.

Solomon Islands were reduced to ten men in the in the final quarter of an hour when Israel Tatai was sent off for lashing out at Vanuatu defender Jason Thomas, who had been booked for holding him back.

And then it was left to Massing to send the Port Vila crowd into raptures, pouncing on the loose ball and firing into the back of the net after Bong Kalo's shot was parried away by the keeper into his path.

"I am so happy to score the winning goal for Vanuatu. Today is a huge day for me and all the players. Now we look forward to representing our small nation in the FIFA U-20 World Cup."

Frederick Massing celebrates scoring the winning goal.

Frederick Massing celebrates scoring the winning goal. Photo: OFC via Phototek

It is the first time Vanuatu have ever qualified for a FIFA event and they will join New Zealand - who beat New Caledonia 3-1 in the other semi-final - among 24 teams in Korea next year.

Technical advisor Declan Edge said they dominated the match and were deserved winners.

"I thought we deserved to win. We were the most dominant team, the team most looking to score and attack. We were knocking on the door the whole game and sometimes you have to wait to the last minute," he said.

"Maybe I'm just grasping what it means to the group now. There's grown men that I've been working with for the last month crying so it's obviously pretty emotional. It's the first World Cup that Vanuatu have ever been to."

Declan Edge said there was big celebrations in the Vanuatu capital last night but the team has already moved on and are focusing on Saturday's OFC final.

"It's another day - we're just getting ready to train again so we've moved on. The boys had a good time last night, I think. There was a parade around Vila last night - I think every man and his dog was out.

"There was cars and there was horns and it was like something out of South America so that was invigorating but today we're back to work, we're training and we're preparing for the next game."

Vanuatu celebrate qualifying for the 2017 FIFA Under 20 World Cup in Korea.

Vanuatu celebrate qualifying for the 2017 FIFA Under 20 World Cup in Korea. Photo: OFC via Phototek