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Ten man Oly Whites grab opening win on Road to London

A ten man New Zealand side have ground out an opening 1-0 win over Papua New Guinea on the opening day of the OFC Men’s Olympic Qualifiers at Owen Delany Park in Taupo.

Sean Lovemore celebrates his goal with Oly Whites captain Adam McGeorge. Photosprt.co.nz

March 16, 2012

AUCKLAND – A ten man New Zealand side have ground out an opening 1-0 win over Papua New Guinea on the opening day of the OFC Men’s Olympic Qualifiers at Owen Delany Park in Taupo.

A polished finish from fleet-footed substitute Sean Lovemore in the 73rd minute eventually sealed the win but the weight of chances for the home side should have seen a ring-rusty New Zealand enjoy a far more comfortable first step on the road to London.

Papua New Guinea were well organised defensively under the guidance of former Socceroos coach Frank Farina but New Zealand still rattled the woodwork twice in the first half and had shots saved, blocked or sail wide.

“It wasn’t the statement we wanted to send out there today,” said New Zealand coach Neil Emblen, “but we still looked hard to score against, limited their chances and got away with a 1-0 win. It was a good effort to win with ten men.”

“Goals change games and if those first half shots go in then we could’ve had a comfortable win and everybody’s happy. Hopefully we save those goals for when we need them, because one was good enough today but there is certainly a lot to improve on.”

The dismissal of Dakota Lucas for abusive language towards an opponent 10 minutes into the second half could have been a game-changer but New Zealand responded with some of their best passages of possession and still created more chances than their opponents.

Louis Fenton had a strong penalty appeal turned down in the 65th minute while Lovemore went close to steering Jason Hicks’ cross in just a minute before successfully converting his match winner.

The result leaves New Zealand needing just a draw from their second Group B match against Tonga on Tuesday to progress to the semi finals. They will be without the suspended Lucas for that match but will have Melbourne Victor’s Marco Rojas to call on after he joins the team on Saturday evening.

Earlier on day one, Fiji claimed a crucial 2-0 victory over the Solomon Islands in Group A thanks to goals from Esava Naqeleca and Archie Watkins, while Vanuatu, led by a five minute second half hat trick from by Sailas Namatak jumped to the top of the group with a resounding 8-0 win over American Samoa.

Match day two on Sunday afternoon sees Solomon Islands take on Vanuatu, and Fiji meet American Samoa in Group A, while Tonga get their campaign underway against Papua New Guinea in Group B.

OFC Men’s Olympic Qualifiers 2012
16-24 March 2012
Owen Delany Park, Taupo, New Zealand

Match Day One
Friday 16 March

New Zealand 1 (Sean LOVEMORE 73’)
Papua New Guinea 0
Halftime: 0-0

New Zealand: 1-Jake GLEESON (GK), 3-Ian HOGG (16-Tristan PRATTLEY 40’), 4-Michael EAGER, 9-Greg DRAPER (10-Sean LOVEMORE 69’), 11-Dakota LUCAS, 12-Louis FENTON, 13-Alex FENERIDIS, 14-James MUSA, 15-Jason HICKS, 17-Adam MCGEORGE (captain), 18-Adam THOMAS.
Substitutes not used: 2-Tim MYERS, 5-Anthony HOBBS, 7-Cameron LINDSAY, 8-Ethan GALBRAITH, 19-Daniel SARIC, 20-Michael O'KEEFFE (RGK).
Coach: Neil EMBLEN

Cautions: Adam MCGEORGE 49’

Red Cards: Dakota LUCAS 55’

Papua New Guinea: 20-Ronald WARISAN (GK), 2-Peter YANG, 4-Daniel JOE, 7-Eliud FUGRE, 8-Alwin KOMOLONG (9-Nigel DABINGYABA 71’), 10-Jamal SEETO, 11-Vanya MALAGIAN, 13-Roland BALA (captain / 21-Japheth TIAMPO 86’), 14-Emmanuel SIMON, 16-Kila POLENA, 18-Wira WAMA.
Substitutes not used: 1-Joey KALA (RGK), 5-Max SENGUM, 6-Ronald SOHURU, 12-Wilson KILA, 15-Amon MEKI, 17-Lap EMBEL, 19-Lee WABING.
Coach: Frank FARINA
Cautions: None

Other Match Day One Scores
Solomon Islands 0
Fiji 2

Halftime: 0-1

Vanuatu 8
American Samoa 0
Halftime: 4-0

 

Group A

P

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

PTS

Vanuatu

1

1

0

0

8

0

8

3

Fiji

1

1

0

0

2

0

2

3

Solomon Islands

1

0

0

1

0

2

-2

0

American Samoa

1

0

0

1

0

8

-8

0

 

 

Group B

P

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

PTS

New Zealand

1

1

0

0

1

0

1

3

Tonga

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Papua New Guinea

1

0

0

1

0

1

-1

0

 

 

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