New Zealand forward Max Mata is in the driver’s seat to claim the top scorer’s award at the OFC U-19 Championship heading into Saturday’s final.
Mata has scored five goals so far in the tournament with the most significant of them all coming against New Caledonia in the semi-final.
New Zealand were a goal down at the end of the first half, courtesy of a Mata own goal.
But it was his second half header which set New Zealand back on course.
“I think we have shown professionalism and resilience, those were two things that we promised ourselves to do when we were down,” he said.
“We were lucky enough to win, we try to keep a cool head to manage the game properly and we had a good feeling inside that we would score and we did.”
The 18-year-old also talked of the spirit of the junior All Whites and their approach in the competition.
“You know we spoke about trying to be professional that is something that we always speak about every time we come to the islands.
“It’s a very tough place and professionalism is a big part of success,” he added.
Mata scored four of New Zealand’s 27 goals in their title winning charge at the 2017 OFC U-17 Championship and captained the squad which qualified for the FIFA U-17 World Cup in India.
“I have qualified for a World Cup before and it was the best feeling of my life.
“Now that I’ve got to have the feeling again, I am lucky I have been able to have a once in a lifetime feeling twice in my life, what can I say? Thank you to God, that’s it.”
The Eastern Suburbs striker will look to extend his goal scoring haul when New Zealand take on Tahiti in the final at Stade Pater on Saturday.
He has team mates Charles Spragg closing in behind with four goals, while Joe Bell and Oliver Whyte have three goals each.
Tahiti duo Eddy Kaspard and Roonui Tehau are also on three goals which makes things interesting in the top scorers’ race.