The head coaches of New Zealand and Solomon Islands have both heaped praise on their players for their performances throughout the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ Oceania Qualifiers after the All Whites secured the tournament win.
New Zealand won 5-0 against Solomon Islands at the Grand Hamad Stadium in Doha, Qatar to secure their place in the intercontinental play-offs, also set to be hosted in Qatar this June.
The result means New Zealand finish the qualifying tournament having scored 18 goals, conceding just one and winning all five of their fixtures using 29 players throughout the competition.
New Zealand head coach Danny Hay has therefore laid praise at the door of all his players for their display over a progressive two-week period.
“The group of players we have got, I cannot speak highly enough of them,” Hay told the gathered press after the final triumph.
“The way they approach things, I think they try and make New Zealand proud every time they go out on a football pitch.
“It is a massive sigh of relief [to advance]. As I said, we came to do a job and we have done that.”
Speaking after defeat, Solomon Islands head coach Felipe Vega-Arango said “everything is positive” from the tournament.
Like Hay, he also had high praise for his players performances throughout a tournament in which they entertained fans with a free-flowing playing style, especially in their 3-1 and 3-2 wins over Tahiti and Papua New Guinea respectively.
“Firstly congratulations to New Zealand for the win, they did a fantastic job,” said Vega-Arango.
“I am extremely proud of my boys. This is football. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose and sometimes things go your way and sometimes they don’t. You have to accept it, congratulate your opposition and make sure the boys are happy.
“I told them when I went to the locker room not to be too disappointed. To be proud of what they have done and keep going from here.”
As for Hay, he now turns his attention to June, when New Zealand will return to Qatar to take on Costa Rica in an intercontinental play-off match for a place at the FIFA World Cup.
Although, he hopes his team can take a moment to appreciate their achievements so far.
“I think we can just take a breather now and we can celebrate this tournament win and then obviously look forward to the one-off play-off,” said Hay.
“That’s the reality we are potentially 90 minutes away from making a World Cup which is bloody exciting for the country.”
New Zealand will face Costa Rica on either June 13 or 14 in Qatar with the winner joining 31 other teams at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ which begins on November 21, 2021.