22 Jan 2015

Sport: New Caledonia seal U17 semis spot

12:48 pm on 22 January 2015

New Caledonia sealed the final playoff berth with a 2-1 victory over Papua New Guinea at the Oceania Under 17 Football Championship in Apia on Wednesday.

Needing only a draw to guarantee their passage to the final four, the Francophones struck twice shortly after halftime and withstood some pressure in the final fifteen minutes, after PNG had pegged a goal back.

PNG needed a win to sneak into the semi finals and coach Harrison Kamake was naturally disappointed at his side coming up short.

"It was unfortunate. We had our chances but we didn't convert them so it's always the case if you don't score goals it will turn out this way, so I guess it was like that and it's unfortunate".

Defending champions New Zealand secured the top spot in Group A with a resounding 6-0 victory against Cook Islands while Fiji beat co-hosts Samoa 4-1.

Meanwhile Tahiti and Vanuatu square off in a top of the table clash to decide who finishes top of Group B, and avoids a semi final against tournament favourites New Zealand.

Both teams have maximum points from their first three games however a draw would enough for Tahiti to finish first thanks to a superior goal differential.

Head coach Ludovic Graugnard believes his teams goes into the clash in Pago Pago with the upper hand.

"I think the pressure is on Vanuatu because in the goal advantage we are [better]. I think maybe some players don't play because they get yellow card".

In the other Group B match co-hosts American Samoa can avoid the wooden spoon with a win over Solomon Islands.