OFC Men’s Nations Cup 2016

New Zealand celebrate winning the OFC Nations Cup. 2016 OFC Nations Cup, Final, New Zealand v Papua New Guinea, Sir John Guise Stadium, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, Saturday 11th June 2016. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / www.phototek.nz

The tenth edition of the OFC Nations Cup took place in 2016 and was held in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. It followed the same format of the competition in 2012, also doubling as qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Eight teams took part, with four in each group, and the top two in each group progressing through to the semi-finals, as well as the third round of OFC 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying. New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, the Solomon Islands, Tahiti, New Caledonia, and Vanuatu qualified automatically as the seven highest-ranked OFC members, whilst Samoa secured their spot through the qualifying tournament to make their second consecutive appearance at the OFC Nations Cup. Hosts Papua New Guinea were placed alongside defending champions Tahiti, New Caledonia, and Samoa in Group A, whilst New Zealand joined the Solomon Islands, Fiji, and Vanuatu in Group B.

Group A will go down as one of the most hotly contested pools in OFC Nations Cup history, with three sides tied on five points after the final matchday. Hosts Papua New Guinea, Tahiti, and New Caledonia, drew all of the matches played amongst each other, leaving the group to be decided by the manner of their winning margins against Samoa. Tahiti opened with a 4-0 win over Samoa, but that was comfortably bettered by New Caledonia with a 7-0 victory, and Papua New Guinea with an 8-0 margin, consigning defending champions Tahiti to a shock exit at the group stage. Papua New Guinea secured top spot in the group, whilst New Caledonia joined them in second, by virtue of goal difference.

With three wins from three, New Zealand progressed through Group B and wrapped up top spot with relative ease. They beat Fiji 3-1 and Vanuatu 5-0, before being made to work hard for a 1-0 victory over the Solomon Islands in the final group match. That made it a battle for second place, which just like Group A, was decided by goal difference. All of Vanuatu, Fiji, and the Solomon Islands stole a win off each other, leaving them all tied on three points. Having kept New Zealand to their lowest winning margin though, the Solomon Islands snuck through into the final four.

Papua New Guinea’s Alwin Komolong and Solomon Island’s Gibson Daudau collide. 2016 OFC Nations Cup, Semi Final, Papua New Guinea v Solomon Islands, Sir John Guise Stadium, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, Wednesday 8th June 2016. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / www.phototek.nz

In a replay of the infamous 2012 OFC Nations Cup semi-final, New Zealand gained revenge for that defeat with a nervy 1-0 win over New Caledonia in the first semi-final of the 2016 edition. Chris Wood’s strike just after half-time was the difference, as New Zealand ensured a return to the final. The second semi-final proved hard-fought too, with hosts Papua New Guinea scraping past the Solomon Islands 2-1 to progress to their first OFC Nations Cup final. An 82nd minute winner from Nigel Dabinyaba sealed the victory for Papua New Guinea, sparking wild celebrations from the home fans.

Papua New Guinea’s Alwin Komolong and Papua New Guinea’s David Muta go up against New Zealand’s Rory Fallon. 2016 OFC Nations Cup, Final, New Zealand v Papua New Guinea, Sir John Guise Stadium, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, Saturday 11th June 2016. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / www.phototek.nz

For the first time in OFC Nations Cup history, penalties were the decider as New Zealand and Papua New Guinea met in the final at a sold out Sir John Guise Stadium in Port Moresby. Neither could be separated after drawing blanks at 0-0 for 120 minutes of play, forcing the 2016 final to a decider. The fairytale wasn’t to come true for the hosts though, with two shootout saves from goalkeeper Stefan Marinvoic ensuring a 4-2 win for New Zealand on penalties and a record-breaking fifth OFC Nations Cup title. Marinovic received the golden glove for his tournament-defining shootout saves, whilst Papua New Guinea’s Raymond Gunemba picked up the golden boot with his five goals and David Muta received the golden ball for the best player of the tournament.