New Zealand delivered an early reminder of their OFC U-19 Championship 2022 title credentials with a commanding 8-0 win over the Cook Islands in their Group A opener in Papeete, Tahiti today.
Kian Donkers’ four-goal haul, a brace from Oliver Colloty and goals from Jay Herdman and Oliver Fay saw the 2018 champions pick up a convincing win to start their title defence in Tahiti.
With the Solomon Islands winning 6-0 against American Samoa earlier in the day, New Zealand knew they needed to respond and Donkers got the ball rolling early, hammering home from close range after just two minutes.
Cook Islands goalkeeper Ngereine Maro, who plays his football in New Zealand, then did his best to keep the scoreline down with stunning saves to deny Herdman, Donkers and Jackson Manuel before New Zealand took control.
Donkers scored two similar goals in quick succession before Herdman, denied several times previously by the defiant Maro, finally got his name on the scoresheet.
Everton O’Leary was then hauled down in the box, with Donkers scoring his fourth of the game from the penalty spot to give New Zealand a 5-0 half-time advantage.
Midway through the second-half and another penalty saw New Zealand stretch their lead to six, substitute Colloty slotting home from 12 yards, before fellow replacement Fay made it 7-0 with a low strike from the edge of the box.
Colloty made it eight after Wilson Souphanthavong’s sublime display of dribbling laid the ball on a plate as New Zealand saw out the final few minutes of an imposing triumph.
New Zealand will look to continue their form against American Samoa while Cook Islands will be hoping for a more positive result against Solomon Islands in Group A’s next set of fixtures on Saturday, September 10.
Cook Islands U-19 0
New Zealand U-19 8 (Kian DONKERS 2’, 21′, 35′, 44′ pen, Jay HERDMAN 39′, Oliver COLLOTY 71′ pen, 84′, Oliver FAY 82′)