9 Jun 2010

New Zealand defenders pick up top honours at OFC Awards

6:28 am on 9 June 2010

Defenders have dominated the Oceania Football Confederation Player of the Year Awards for 2009 with New Zealand's Ivan Vicelich and Ali Riley picking up top honours in the men's and women's categories.

The 33 year old Vicelich earns recognition as Oceania's top male footballer following a successful year for club and country.

The central defender's highlights include FIFA World Cup qualification with the All Whites and captaining Auckland City FC to an O-League title and fifth-place finish at the FIFA Club World Cup in December last year.

The 22-year-old Riley has been an integral part of the New Zealand women's team since her debut in 2007 and helped the Football Ferns to a credible fourth-place finish at the 2009 Cyprus Cup.

The fullback also had a breakthrough season in the US as outstanding performances for W-League champions Pali Blues earned her a professional contract in the 2010 WPS League with FC Gold Pride, based in Santa Clara, California.