9 Jul 2015

Oly Whites into Pacific Games semi finals

11:57 am on 9 July 2015

The New Zealand men's under 23 football side will play Vanuatu in the semi-finals at the Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea on Friday.

All Whites coach Anthony Hudson

All Whites coach Anthony Hudson Photo: Photosport

The Oly Whites completed their group matches with a 5-0 win over New Caledonia at the tournament in Port Moresby which doubles as an Olympic qualifier.

Logan Rogerson scored a hatrick.

Fiji will play hosts Papua New Guinea in the other semi-final with the winner of the tournament will qualifying for next year's Rio Olympics.

First half goals from Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi and 17-year-old Rogerson set Anthony Hudson's side on their way before Luka Prelevic made it 3-0 at the start of the second half.

Rogerson then completed his hat-trick with two second half strikes in his first start for the Men's U-23 side.

The result clinches top spot for the New Zealanders in the Group and a semi-final meeting with Vanuatu on Friday with a place at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games up for grabs for the winner of the Olympic qualifying section of the tournament.

New Zealand assistant coach Alex Armstrong said a combination of factors saw the team produce their best goal scoring performance of the tournament to date.

"New Caledonia are not as frantic as Papua New Guinea which probably suited us better today," Armstrong said.

"We also changed nine players and maybe that bit of fresh legs helped us as well whereas the opposition probably only rested one or two."

"The lads got the ball down and played and worked really hard. We scored quite early so that settled the team and just before half-time we scored a second goal."

"In the second half the lads grew in confidence and started passing that ball around and played some really nice football."

Armstrong added the group showed the flexibility to switch systems during the game and continue to add to the score line.

"We played with a back five to start with and then we swapped in the second half to a back four and the lads executed everything absolutely brilliantly. It was another good team performance."

Focus now turns to the semi-final clash against Vanuatu on Friday with the majority of the squad having now pushed their case for a place in the starting side.

"Vanuatu will be a team which also gets the ball down and play a little bit so that will be an interesting mix for us," Armstrong said.