Fiji and New Zealand will face off in the OFC U-19 Championship 2022 final this weekend at Stade Pater in Papeete, Tahiti.
Both teams are already celebrating after respective semi-final triumphs over New Caledonia and Tahiti secured their place at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Indonesia 2023. However, the battle for regional supremacy will be decided on Saturday at 8.00pm (local time).
For New Zealand, it is a second final in succession following their 2018 triumph over Tahiti, also at Stade Pater. Trevor Zwetsloot scored the winning goal that day in a 1-0 triumph and the Junior All Whites will be hoping for a similar result four years on.
They will go into the game as pre-match favourites, having won all five of their games at this year’s tournament, scoring 30 goals and conceding none.
“We came here to qualify for the (FIFA U-20) World Cup and we’ve done that. But we also want to be champions. The boys are super keen to make sure we do that as well.” – New Zealand head coach Darren Bazeley.
Success would secure the nation’s eighth title and would be their fifth win in their previous five participations, having missed the 2014 edition.
Fiji won the tournament that year, their one and only overall victory. The tournament was decided in a round robin on that occasion, so Fiji have not played in a grand final since 2002. That game 20 years ago ended in defeat to Australia and was Fiji’s second appearance in a final two.
Overall, including both knockout and league competition structures, Fiji have finished second on five occasions and will be hoping not to make it six this weekend.
“It will be difficult. It won’t be easy so it is very important to see what we can do with these two days.
“This is a boost for Fiji. With the pandemic, there was a lot of suffering in our islands and it’s a joy giving back to them.” – Fiji head coach Ronil Lal
To do so, they will need to continue the form that saw them overwhelm Samoa and New Caledonia in the knockout phases and can take heart from a pre-tournament friendly against New Zealand, which they drew 1-1 in Auckland.
The OFC U-19 Championship 2022 final will kick off on Saturday, September 24 at 8.00pm local time (September 25, 6.00pm Fiji time; September 25, 7.00pm NZ time).