The Solomon Islands and New Zealand have qualified for the quarter-finals of the OFC U-19 Championship 2022 following wins in their second matches.
New Zealand had a resounding 9-0 win over American Samoa while the Solomon Islands had to fight for a 3-0 win over the Cook Islands.
New Zealand will take on Solomon Islands in their final pool fixture in a first and second placed decider. American Samoa will face their own crunch fixture on the same day when they take on the Cook Islands with a potential place in the final eight as a best third-placed team on the line. Here are the match reports:
New Zealand v American Samoa
A hat-trick from Oliver Colloty helped New Zealand to a comfortable victory. New Zealand came into the game as the comfortable pre-match favourites but were made to work hard in the early stages by an American Samoa side intent on holding out as long as possible.
The Junior All Whites had to wait nearly half an hour to break their luck, Jackson Manuel eventually firing home from the edge of the box.
Colloty bundled home his first and New Zealand’s second ten minutes later before Charlie Beale’s sublime curling effort from the edge of the box stretched the advantage to three. Captain Finn Surman then tapped in from close range to make it 4-0 in first-half stoppage time.
Colloty earned his hat-trick with a penalty and well-placed header in the second-half while American Samoa were nearly gifted a chance to score when New Zealand goalkeeper Oscar Mason dropped the ball at Petu Pouli’s feet.
Beale’s exquisite touch and volley made it seven before substitute Kian Donkers scored from the spot for eight and another for the team’s ninth.
Solomon Islands v Cook Islands
Goals from Selwyn Hou, Paul Francis and Junior Rocky decided a tight contest at Stade Fautaua. Just as they did in their opening game of the tournament against New Zealand, the Cook Islands found themselves a goal down inside two minutes.
Rocky pinched the ball from sprawling Cook Islands keeper Ngereine Maro to cross for Hou, who headed home the opener from close-range.
Maro then did well to deny Francis after a delightful piece of skill from the forward in the box. However, Francis did not have to wait long for his fourth goal of the competition, albeit in fortuitous fashion, as his half-volley deflected off Nuku Mokoroa and looped over the helpless Maro.
The Cook Islands did demonstrate their threat from set-pieces shortly after, Nia Remuera nearly pulling a goal back after a deep free-kick into Solomons territory.
However, it was a rare foray forward, with Maro again saving brilliantly to deny Alden Suri as half-time approached and twice again early in the second period from Francis and Rocky.
The last time these two nations met at a OFC U-19 Championship was back in 2016, with the Solomons winning 3-0. With 20 minutes left they emulated that scoreline, Rocky poking the ball beyond Maro after Suri’s effort had bounced kindly into his path.