26 Apr 2011

Mangere pitch not up to scratch for Oceania champs

12:37 pm on 26 April 2011

Player safety and concerns over the playing surface are being blamed for the final four matches of the Oceania Under-20 football championship being moved to Auckland's North Harbour Stadium.

The tournament decides which nation will go on to represent Oceania at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Colombia from July, and group play took place at Centre Park in Mangere.

But Wednesday's semi-finals will now take place on North Harbour Stadium's outer oval while the 3rd/4th play-off and grand final will be staged in the main stadium on Friday.

A football source says the concerns for player safety was a smokescreen to save face, and the surface at Centre Park is just too bad to stage the deciders on.

Vanuatu face Solomon Islands first up on Wednesday, followed by the second semi-final between Group B winners New Zealand and Group A runners-up Fiji.