New Zealand U-23 striker Ben Waine has been in prolific goalscoring form to help his side’s progression to Saturday’s final at the OFC Men’s Olympic Qualifier tournament in Fiji.
Des Buckingham’s men have won all their previous four games on their way to the decider, and Waine has contributed with seven goals to New Zealand’s impressive tally of 28.
The 18-year-old Wellington Phoenix forward, who was part of the New Zealand squad at the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland, scoring a double against Honduras, is relishing his chance on the international stage.
Following his side’s 6-1 semi-final win over Fiji, in which Waine was again on target as well as providing three assists, he couldn’t hide his delight.
“Not a bad performance, it’s good to get a goal and help set up your teammates, but more importantly it was a good team performance,” he said.
“In the first half we worked hard, in the second half we had to scrap it out a bit more but we happily did that and we’ve worked till the 90th minute,” added the young striker.
Waine admits the match played in stifling conditions was a tough challenge and he needs to work hard to handle the heat and the humidity in Fiji.
“To be honest I’ve never played in something like that, it’s my first time playing football in the islands and I’m still getting used to it, it’s insane,” he explained.
Despite some of the challenges, Waine insists the team is focused on their goal of reaching next year’s Games in Tokyo and everybody is willing to give all they have to fulfil their Olympic dreams.
With only one Oceania spot up for grabs, New Zealand will face Solomon Islands’ in Saturday’s final of the OFC Men’s Olympic Qualifier at Lautoka’s Churchill Park, in a rematch of last Friday encounter Group A encounter in Suva, which ended in a 4-2 win for the Kiwis
And Waine is adamant his side will be ready.
“That’s the exact reason why we are here to get to the Olympics and we are one game away, we have worked hard and we have done very well, four out of four games we’ve won, one more and hopefully we will be in Tokyo next year,” The New Zealand U-23 striker said.