New Zealand and Tahiti are set to battle for bragging rights in the OFC U-19 Championships when they meet for the second time in the competition in tomorrow’s final at Stade Pater.
New Zealand scraped past New Caledonia with a 2-1 come-from-behind win in Wednesday’s semi-final, while hosts Tahiti’s dominant second-half showing helped them to a 3-1 win over Solomon Islands as the Polynesians secured their second appearance at the FIFA U-20 World Cup, following their debut in 2009.
The French Polynesians have in fact won the OFC U-20 Championship twice, with victory coming on home soil on both occasions.
They first lifted the silverware in the very first edition of the competition held in 1974, when they beat New Zealand 2-0 in the final. The most recent title came in 2008, success which earned them a debut at the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
New Zealand meanwhile are the defending champions with six titles to their name with four of them coming in their past five appearances.
Although the big prize of qualification for Poland 2019 has been achieved by these two nations, national pride and right to claim the title of regional champions is on the line when they meet tomorrow night.
It will be the second time in the past two weeks that these two nations will play, after opening their respective campaigns against each other on the first day of the competition back on 5 August.
The match ended in 2-1 victory for New Zealand with former U-17 captain Max Mata and OFC U-17 Championship Golden Ball and Boot winner Charles Spragg both opening their accounts for the Kiwis.
Having achieved the main objective of qualifying for the FIFA U-20 World Cup Tahiti coach Bruno Tehaamoana said to get one over the New Zealanders in the final will be a great confidence boost.
“It was nice to accomplish our first target because the semi-final was the decider for the place at the World Cup,” he said.
“The final on Saturday will be the icing on the cake for us and it’s up to the players to decide if they want to go for the trophy or not.”
New Zealand’s coach Des Buckingham insisted his side are out to inscribe their name on the trophy for a seventh time.
“Well the job is not done because we are here to defend our title.
“Although we have secured qualification to the World Cup, it is good to win the tournament as well,” the All Whites assistant coach said.
New Zealand vs. Tahiti
Saturday 18 August
Stade Pater, Tahiti
Kick-off: 18h00 local (Sunday 19 August – 15h SOL & NCL / 16h NZL)
Referee: David YAREBOINEN (PNG)
Assistant Referee 1: Bernard MUTUKERA (SOL)
Assistant Referee 2: Folio MOEAKI (TGA)
Fourth Official: George TIME (SOL)
New Zealand: 1. Cameron BROWN (GK), 2. Jordan SPAIN, 3. Dino BOTICA, 4. Joe BELL, 5. Robert TIPELU, 6. Dane SCHNELL, 7. Matthew CONROY, 8. Trevor ZWETSLOOT, 9. Max MATA, 10. Charles SPRAGG, 11. Willem EBBINGE, 12. Zac JONES (GK), 14. Jorge AKERS, 15. Callan ELLIOT, 16. Leon VAN DEN HOVEN, 17. Boyd CURRY, 18. Kingsley SINCLAIR, 19. Oliver WHYTE
Coach: Des BUCKINGHAM (ENG)
Tahiti: 2. Antonio FIU, 3. Hannel TEHAAMOANA, 4. Kavai’ei MORGANT, 5. Purutu NANUAITERAI, 6. Ramanui AMAU, 7. Ramanui AMAU, 8. Yann VIVI, 9. Eddy KASPARD, 10. Roonui TEHAU, 11. Mauri HEITAA, 12. Hugo BOUBE, 13. Keali’i WONG, 14. Tutehau TUFARIUA, 15. Hauragi HURI, 16. Tevaearai TAMATAI (GK), 17. Rainui NORDMAN, 18. Samuel LIPARO, 19. Orirau TEIHO, 20. Ariimana TAAROAMEA, 23. Moana PITO (GK)
Coach : Bruno TEHAAMOANA (TAH)