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Junior All Whites playoff hopes on knife-edge

The Junior All Whites face a nervous 24-hour wait to learn if they will be part of the knockout stages of the FIFA U-20 World Cup after a 0-1 loss to Portugal on Saturday morning (NZT) saw them finish third in Group B.

Dakota Lucas tries to evade his marker, Getty via FIFA

August 6, 2011

AUCKLAND – The Junior All Whites face a nervous 24-hour wait to learn if they will be part of the knockout stages of the FIFA U-20 World Cup after a 0-1 loss to Portugal on Saturday morning (NZT) saw them finish third in Group B.

New Zealand fell behind to the classy Europeans when a defence splitting Nelson Oliveira pass put fullback Mario Rui through on goal and his strike inside the far upright of Stefan Marinovic’s goal was enough to seal top spot in the group.

A 1-0 win for Cameroon over Uruguay moved the Africans into second place, eliminated the South Americans and left the Kiwis awaiting the results of Sunday’s Group C and D matches to see if they will qualify for the round of 16 as one of the four best third-placed teams.

Their two point haul – from 1-1 draws against Cameroon and Uruguay – is already better than Panama, who finished third in Group E and could yet see off potential rivals Australia and Ecuador (one point each) from Group C or Guatemala and Croatia (both pointless) in Group D.

New Zealand would need just one of set of results to go their way but coach Chris Milicich was not holding his breath.

“There’s huge interest in the games tomorrow but at the end of the day if you go through with two draws it’s pretty fortuitous.”

If the loss to Portugal proved to be the Junior All Whites’ last act of the 24 nation tournament, Milicich said his boys would take pride in claiming New Zealand’s first points at an U-20 men’s World Cup after three close losses on debut in 2007 and not qualifying in 2009.

 “The boys were tired and exhausted and they gave me everything that I asked for but unfortunately we made one mistake when we didn’t track the runner inside. They scored a goal and then even at in the last 15 or 20 minutes we couldn’t get the ball in the net.

“Portugal were just a little too professional at keeping the ball from us.”
“Last time a team from the Oceania region was at this tournament they lost 8-0, 8-0 and 5-0 so were really pleased we restored a lot of respect for Oceania at this level.

It took New Zealand 42 minutes to register their first shot on goal against a Portuguese defence that is still yet to concede in three games, although Dakota Lucas and Adam Thomas both nearly got on the end of dangerous in-swinging crosses midway through the first half.

Junior All Whites playmaker Marco Rojas was allowed no freedom to run at opposition until early in the second half and the midfielder found lively substitute Ethan Galbraith on the edge of the area, but the target man’s firmly struck shot was well saved.

The introduction of Galbraith added spark to the Junior All Whites’ search for an equalising goal that would have confirmed their place in the knockout stages but despite throwing more numbers forward in the dying minutes, Portugal’s defence were equal to the task.

FIFA U-20 World Cup Colombia 2011
Group B
Estadio Olimpico Pascual Guerrero
Cali, Colombia

New Zealand 0
Portugal 1 (MARIO RUI 31’)
Halftime: 0-1

New Zealand: 1-Stefan MARINOVIC (gk), 2-Andrew BEVIN, 3-Nick BRANCH (c), 7-Cameron LINDSAY (8-Ethan GALBRAITH 56’), 10-Anthony HOBBS, 11-Dakota LUCAS, 13-Colin MURPHY, 14-James MUSA, 15-Marco ROJAS (4-Ryan CAIN 76’), 16-Luke ROWE, 18-Adam THOMAS.
Substitutes not used: 5-Sean LOVEMORE, 6-Nikko BOXALL, 9-Tim PAYNE, 12-Andrew MILNE, 17-Mikey KRAMER, 19-Liam HIGGINS, 20-Scott BASALAJ (rgk), 21-Coey TURIPA (rgk).
Coach: Chris MILICICH
Cautions: Ethan GALBRAITH 70’

Portugal: 1-MIKA (gk), 2-PELE, 4-NUNO REIS (c), 5-RODERICK (3-TIAGO FERREIRA 46’), 6-JULIO ALVES, 7-NELSON OLIVEIRA, 8-CEDRIC, 11-CAETANO (18-RICARDO DIAS 83’), 14-ALEX, 15-DANILO (17-SERGIO OLIVEIRA 72’), 20-MARIO RUI.
Substitutes not used: 9-AMIDO BALDE, 10-SANA, 12-TIAGO MAIA (rgk), 13-LUIS MARTINS, 16-SERGINHO, 19-LUIS RIBEIRO (rgk), 21-RAFAEL LOPES.
Coach: Ilidio VALE
Cautions: MARIO RUI 28’

Group B Standings

 

 

P

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

PTS

Portugal

3

2

1

0

2

0

2

7

Cameroon

3

1

1

1

2

2

0

4

New Zealand

3

0

2

1

2

3

-1

2

Uruguay

3

0

2

1

1

2

-1

2

 

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