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Junior All Whites scalp African Champs

The Junior All Whites have given their FIFA U-20 World Cup confidence a boost with a thrilling 4-3 win over African champions Nigeria at the Suwon U-20 Cup in South Korea today.

Dakota Lucas scored the decisive goal. www.photosport.co.nz

May 10, 2011

AUCKLAND – The Junior All Whites have given their FIFA U-20 World Cup confidence a boost with a thrilling 4-3 win over African champions Nigeria at the Suwon U-20 Cup in South Korea today.

As in their previous two matches in the quadrangular tournament – 0-1 defeats to Uruguay and Korea Republic – New Zealand were competitive throughout the match but crucially found their scoring touch to claim a prize scalp.

Nigeria took the lead in the 18th when Uche Nwofor struck from 25 metres out but New Zealand clawed their way back to level terms when Cameron Lindsay curled an equaliser in from the edge of the box, just minutes after Dakota Lucas failed to convert a close range chance.

The Flying Eagles were denied twice before halftime, first by New Zealand goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic and then by the offside flag but it was New Zealand who struck next when captain Nick Branch volleyed a Marco Rojas free kick after an hour’s play.

The lead was short lived as quick fire goals to Nigeria, the second with New Zealand temporarily down to 10 men through an injury to fullback Andrew Milne, earned them a 3-2 lead with 25 minutes left.

Rojas added his own name to the score sheet in the 71st minute and six minutes later Lucas pounced on a poor goalkeeper clearance to rifle home what proved to be the match winner.

New Zealand coach Chris Milicich was satisfied with the progress his side had made over the week long tournament.

“Today was very pleasing for no other reason than we’re learning how to win,” said Milicich.

“We’ve had two really close results and in this one we’ve come back twice to get the result.”

“This is a team that beat Korea, drew with Uruguay and were trying to win the tournament.  They tried to beat us with everything they had. They are African champions and we stood toe to toe with them and come out on the right side of the ledger.”

New Zealand open their FIFA U-20 World Cup campaign on July 30 against Cameroon, who lost to Nigeria in the  final of the African U-20 Championship, and while Milicich says the first taste of African opposition has provided insights, his staff won’t be taking anything for granted in Colombia.

“That’s a different game on a different day but we’ve proven we can compete at this level. We are going to go into the tournament with not a lot of fear for opposition but certainly a tremendous amount of respect.”

New Zealand finished the tournament in either fourth place, two points behind winners Uruguay who clinched first place with a 1-1 draw against South Korea later on Tuesday.

Suwon International Youth (U-20) Tournament 2011
Suwon World Cup Stadium
Suwon, Korea Republic

Nigeria 3 (18’, 65’ 66’)
New Zealand 4 (Cameron LINDSAY 36’, Nick BRANCH , Marco ROJAS 71’, Dakota LUCAS 77’)
Halftime: 1-1

New Zealand: Stefan MARINOVIC (gk), Luis ESTEVEZ (Ant HOBBS 46’), Nick BRANCH (c), James MUSA (Nikko BOXALL 80’), Andrew MILNE (Liam HIGGINS 66’), Ryan CAIN, Adam THOMAS (Zane SOLE 90’), Cameron LINDSAY, Marco ROJAS (Michael BUILT 88’), Andy BEVIN, Dakota LUCAS (Sean LOVEMORE 89’).
Substitutes not used: Alex CARR (rgk), Jamie DORIS, Ethan GALBRAITH.
Coach: Chris MILICICH

Standings

 

P

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

PTS

Uruguay

3

1

2

0

4

3

1

5

Nigeria

3

1

1

1

6

6

0

4

Korea Republic

3

1

1

1

2

2

0

4

New Zealand

3

1

0

2

4

5

-1

3

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