NZ qualify for OFC U-19 Men's Championship semi-final

July 9, 2024 3:14 pm

[Source: OFC Media via Phototek]

New Zealand are through to the semi-finals of the OFC U-19 Men’s Championship after a comfortable 5-0 victory against hosts Samoa.

The defending champions caught the hosts napping in the opening minutes, Luke Supyk outmuscling the Samoan defence, before forcing a save from Joel Bartley, who tipped it on to the crossbar.

New Zealand’s early dominance paid dividends in the opening stages. A cross in from the right-hand side was initially dealt with by Samoa but Codey Phoenix was there on the follow up, producing a great half volley that nestled into the bottom corner

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Phoenix had his second not long after, his high curling corner managed to beat everyone including the goalkeeper, which delighted the small Kiwi contingent in the crowd.

Samoa struggled to find any footing in the match – the wet weather certainly didn’t help – as the Kiwis peppered the hosts penalty area. Eventually the hosts broke again, Fergus Gillion smartly finishing in the corner, after a great run and assist from Lachlan Candy.

Action was limited at the start of the second period of play but sparked into life around the 60th minute. New Zealand’s Nathan Walker shot glanced across the face of goal, narrowly missing the outstretched leg of Supyk at the back post.

Moments later, Lewis Partridge produced a delightful cross into the penalty box for Supyk, however, Bartley made an amazing point blank save to deny New Zealand a fourth goal.

The defending champions fourth goal did eventually come, Partridge the beneficiary. A low cross was sent into the box, Supyk flicked it on for Gabriel Sloane-Rodrigues whose point blank shot was save by Bartley. However, Partridge was there on the follow up to smash it home.

Samoa toiled away but couldn’t break down a sturdy New Zealand defence. Captain Pharrell Trainor, who had been so effective up front against Papua New Guinea, was kept quiet.

A late fifth came via an unfortunate own goal as New Zealand finished strongly

The result means New Zealand are the first team to clinch a semi-final spot. As for hosts Samoa, it will be a winner-takes-all final match against New Caledonia on Friday.