7 Sep 2016

Sport: Vanuatu and NZ footballers seal semis berths

11:39 am on 7 September 2016

Vanuatu and New Zealand have booked their place in the semi finals of the OFC Under 20 Men's Football Championship with a game to spare.

The hosts defeated Papua New Guinea 3-1 in Port Vila to stay top of Group A, with a red card to PNG's Kenneth Pilailo four minutes after the restart allowing Vanuatu to take control.

Ronaldo Wilkins converted the resulting penalty before skipper Bong Kalo volleyed home six minutes later.

Gabby Yanum pulled a goal back for PNG in the 77th minute before Jayson Thomas sealed the 3-1 victory four minutes later.

Vanuatu's technical advisor, Declan Edge told OFC TV he was happy for his players and the home supporters.

"It could have gone either way to be fair. We took some good chances and Bong scored a terrific goal for the second. It's football and sometimes it can go either way. We're just happy to get a good result."

Vanuatu celebrate a goal against Papua New Guinea.

Vanuatu celebrate a goal against Papua New Guinea. Photo: OFC via Phototek

New Caledonia and Fiji drew 1-1 to keep both teams in contention for the knockout stage.

Fiji need other results to go their way but coach Yogendra Dutt was happy to still be in the playoff mix.

"We said we would give it our best shot and we did so to earn a point. Now we have to prepare for our next game which will determine where we finish in this tournament. So we have to prepare and play to the best of our ability."

Meanwhile New Zealand came from behind to defeat ten-man Tahiti 4-1 in Santo to book the first semi-final berth from Group B.

Rayan Petitgas gave the French Polynesian's a surprise 27th minute lead before Young All Whites striker Moses Dyer equalised from the penalty spot six minutes before the break.

New Zealand celebrate the fourth and final goal courtesy of Myer Bevan (L).

New Zealand celebrate the fourth and final goal courtesy of Myer Bevan (L). Photo: OFC via Phototek

Three second-half goals sealed victory and a semi final berth but coach Darren Bazeley said it wasn't easy against a determined Tahiti side.

"We knew what they were going to bring, it was very competitive. In the first half there were free-kick chances, we had three and we didn't take them, they had one at the other end and scored off the set-piece," he said.

"I think throughout the whole game we pretty much restricted them to that one chance, but they gave it a real good go, it was a competitive game and it was good to be part of.

"Our guys eventually got into it, got on top and then played really well I thought and dominated once we got back level."

Meanwhile Solomon Islands kept their hopes alive with a 3-0 victory against Cook Islands.

The first half finished goalless but Coach Pedro Mateo was pleased with how his players coped with a resilient and well-prepared defence.

"We went to the locker room at half-time and discussed the best way to break this down and by putting the ball on the floor we knew the goals would come."

The final round of group matches will take place on Saturday.