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ISLAND COUNTRIES CLOSE THE GAP

The four semi-finalists have been found in the 2005 OFC Under 20 Tournament played in Honiara, Solomon Islands after the Solomon Islands defeated New Zealand 2-1.

In Group A – Australia and Vanuatu have already qualified despite one more round of matches being played tommorrow in this Group. They will play each other to determine their placings in Group A.

In Group B, with the 2-1 defeat of New Zealand, Solomon Islands finish top of Group B with Fiji runners-up who earlier defeated Samoa 9-1. This is the second loss by New Zealand in this tournament which illustrates the strength now of island countries youth in Oceania football.

“In OFC today, the island countries have closed the gap on New Zealand and in fact you would have to say that they have overtaken them slightly. The FIFA Goal projects, the FIFA and OFC financial assistance programes, the use of experienced overseas technical personnel in the island countries for the last 6 years are starting to pay dividends. A lot of credit must be given to the island countries for their hardwork and dedication in football development.” said OFC General Secretary, Tai Nicholas

Hot favourites Australia is likely to face Fiji in the first semi-final while Solomon Islands should take on Vanuatu in the other semi-final. Matches will be played on Saturday 29th January 2005 at 14.00pm and 16.00pm respectively.

As communications to Honiara is very difficult, a full match report on the Solomon Islands vs New Zealand match will follow soon.

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