New Zealand will face Fiji in the OFC U-19 Championship 2022 final following a 2-0 semi-final win over host nation Tahiti at Stade Pater in Papeete, Tahiti.
A first-minute header from Isaac Hughes and Kian Donkers’s fortunate second-half strike earned the victory, which also qualifies New Zealand for the FIFA U-20 World Cup Indonesia 2023™
These two sides last met in this competition, on the same ground, four years ago with New Zealand winning 1-0 in the 2018 final. Less than a minute into this fixture and the reigning champions matched that scoreline.
Fin Conchie’s expertly delivered free-kick was headed in from close-range by Hughes with just 49 seconds on the clock.
It was a dream start for New Zealand but Tahiti were galvanised by their passionate home support and pushed the tournament favourites back throughout the opening period.
A long-range effort from Hauroa Morgant forced New Zealand goalkeeper Henry Gray into a decent save. New Zealand’s goalie was then fortunate not to be caught out after racing off his line, but recovered in time to comfortably deal with Tekaki Sangue’s attempt as Tahiti ended the half strong.
Just seven minutes into the second period and young Tahiti goalkeeper Anapa Debruyne had a moment he will want to forget. A powerful strike from Donkers slipped through the stopper’s hands and trickled over the line despite his despairing dive.
Both sides continued to hunt for goals but the score remained 2-0, confirming New Zealand’s progression and their participation in a sixth consecutive FIFA U-20 World Cup.
New Zealand will now take on Fiji in the final on Saturday, September 24 at 8.00pm local time while Tahiti will face fellow losing semi-finalists New Caledonia in the third place playoff.
New Zealand U-19 2 (Isaac HUGHES 1′, Kian DONKERS 52′)
Tahiti U-19 0