OFC Men’s Nations Cup 1980

 

Following a seven year hiatus, the OFC Nations Cup returned for its second edition in 1980. The tournament was held in Noumea, New Caledonia, with eight participating teams split between two groups. Inaugural OFC Nations Cup winners New Zealand were placed alongside Tahiti, Fiji, and the Solomon Islands in Group A, whilst hosts New Caledonia joined Australia, New Hebrides, and Papua New Guinea in Group B. The winner of each group would progress to the final, with the second placed sides qualifying for the third-place play-off.

Tahiti would gain revenge for their defeat in the final of the 1973 OFC Nations Cup with a 3-1 victory over New Zealand to open the tournament in Group A. Defending champions New Zealand were on the end of another shock defeat on Matchday Two as well, falling 0-4 to Fiji and exiting the tournament early. With two wins from two over New Zealand and the Solomon Islands, Group A came down to a decider between Tahiti and Fiji on the final matchday. In a 9-goal thriller Tahiti beat Fiji 6-3 to secure top spot and a place in the final.

Australia were always in control of Group B, opening their campaign with a 8-0 drubbing of hosts New Caledonia, followed by an 11-2 victory over Papua New Guinea, and a much tighter 1-0 win over New Hebrides. Three wins from three booked their place in the final with Tahiti, whilst New Caledonia beat Papua New Guinea 8-0 on the final matchday to progress to the third-place playoff against Fiji.

Jean Xowi goals either side of halftime helped New Caledonia secure a 2-1 win over Fiji and a second consecutive third-place finish, before Australia claimed their maiden OFC Nations Cup title with a hard-fought 4-2 victory over Tahiti in the final. Two first half goals from Paul Kay proved the difference in the final for Australia, but it was his teammates Ian Hunter and Eddie Krncevic who topped the tournament goal-scoring charts with five each.