OFC Men’s Nations Cup 2002


The sixth edition of the OFC Nations Cup took place in 2002 and was held in Auckland, New Zealand. For the first time the competition consisted of eight nations, with two groups made up of four, and the top two in each group progressing to the semi-finals. Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Fiji, the Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu qualified for the tournament as the six highest-ranked OFC nations, whilst Papua New Guinea and New Caledonia joined them from the qualifying tournament. Defending champions Australia were drawn alongside Vanuatu, Fiji, and New Caledonia in Group A, whilst hosts New Zealand were joined by Tahiti, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands in Group B.

In a re-match of the 2000 OFC Nations Cup semi-final, Australia began their campaign with a 2-0 victory over Vanuatu, and had little trouble claiming top spot in the group with big 11-0 and 8-0 wins over New Caledonia and Fiji to follow. It was a fight between the other three nations in the group to decide the other semi-final spot, and Fiji put themselves in the frame with a 2-1 success over New Caledonia on matchday one. Vanuatu held their nerve with 1-0 wins over both nations though, securing a second-place finish and a spot in the final four for the second OFC Nations Cup running.

Group B proved comfortable for New Zealand, who opened up with an impressive 4-0 win over Tahiti, followed by 9-1 and 6-1 wins over Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. They claimed top spot in the group as such, once again leaving it to the other three sides to jostle for second. It was Tahiti who came through to claim the final place in the semi-finals, dramatically beating the Solomon Islands 3-2, before getting past Papua New Guinea 3-1 on the final matchday.

The first semi-final proved an almighty battle, with Australia forced into extra-time to fend off Tahiti 2-1 and progress to the final. Tahiti had led up until the 88th minute of the contest, but Joel Porter propelled the contest into an extra half hour, before Damian Mori came up with the decisive goal in extra-time. New Zealand was too good for Vanuatu in the second semi though, winning 3-0 with goals from Mark Burton and Chris Killen.

For the third consecutive time, New Zealand and Australia met in the final of the 2002 OFC Nations Cup at Ericsson Stadium in Auckland. This time it was New Zealand who triumphed for their third continental title, edging Australia 1-0 with a 78th minute winner from talismanic defender Ryan Nelson. Meanwhile Tahiti finished third with a 1-0 win over Vanuatu, marking their return to the top three for the first time since 1996. New Zealanders Chris Killen and Jeff Campbell finished joint top-scorers for the tournament with five goals, alongside Australians Joel Porter and Bobby Despotovski.