20 Sep 2018

Sport: Solomons reach Oceania Final, World Cup

3:41 pm on 20 September 2018

Solomon Islands and New Zealand have qualified for the under 17 football World Cup after both teams went through to the final of the Oceania under 16 championship.

Charles Mani

Charles Mani Photo: OFC via Phototek

In front of 8000 delighted fans at Honiara's Lawson Tama Stadium, the Solomons defeated Fiji 3-1 in yesterday's semi final, after Charles Mani scored for the home team in the first 45 seconds of the match.

Mani netted again in the 29th minute before Fiji got one back at the end of the first-half through Nikhi Pillay.

The second-half was a stalemate until Raphael Le'ai became the tournament's leading goal scorer (8) in stoppage time to assure the home team a place at the age grade World Cup for the first time.

In the other semi-final, New Zealand beat Tahiti 4-1.

Oskar Van Hattum in action in under 16 OFC

Oskar Van Hattum in action in under 16 OFC Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Oskar Van Hattum scored moments after kick-off before Henry Hamilton took his tournament goal tally to six with a quick-fire double.

That gave New Zealand a 3-0 lead well before half-time. Tahiti's Tenaki Sangue scored in the 79th minute before Matthew Garbett's goal four minutes later sealed the result and New Zealand's place at next year's World Cup in Peru.

Coach Jose Figueira said the performance was close to his team's best.

"We're obviously delighted to have earned that qualification and I think the biggest thing today was the personality shown by the boys. To put on a performance like that in such a big game was top class."

Solomons Islands meet New Zealand in Saturday's final, a rematch of the pool game that the Solomons won 5-nil.

Fiji take on Tahiti on Saturday in the playoff for third.