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NZ book semis spot, PNG stay alive in OFC World Cup qualifiers

Monday 21 March 2022 | Written by RNZ | Published in Pacific Islands, Regional


NZ book semis spot, PNG stay alive in OFC World Cup qualifiers
Chris Wood became the All Whites top International Scorer during the 4-0 win over Fiji. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

New Zealand have confirmed their place in the semi finals of the FIFA World Cup Oceania Qualifiers with a comprehensive 4-0 victory over Fiji in Qatar.

Newcastle United striker Chris Wood opened the scoring in the 45th minute to give the All Whites the advantage at half-time.

Elijah Just doubled their lead in the 71st minute before Wood bagged his second two minutes later to surpass Vaughan Coveny as New Zealand's all-time leading scorer with 30 goals.

Midfielder Clayton Lewis completed the rout with a goal deep in stoppage time.

The All Whites have maximum points from their first two games, after beating Papua New Guinea 1-0 at the weekend.

PNG are second on goal difference after beating New Caledonia 1-0 in the early match in Group B.

A spectacular long-range strike in the eighth minute from Kapuls striker Tommy Semmy secured all three points for the, while Les Cagous remain winless and had defender Jean-Luc Decoire sent off in the 87th minute.

Two teams from Groups A and B will advance to the semi finals of the OFC qualifiers, with the eventual winners playing off against the fourth placed team from the CONCACAF confederation for a berth at the World Cup Finals.

Papua New Guinea and Fiji will face-off in the final match-day on Friday with the Bula Boys needing a win to advance to the semi finals, while a draw would be enough for PNG to progress from Group B.

Meanwhile Solomon Islands lead Group A despite not taking the field since their 2-0 win over the Cook Islands on match-day one, while Tahiti are yet to play a match at all.

Match-day three in Doha was cancelled after the Vanuatu and Cook Islands squads returned a number of positive cases of Covid-19, with Vanuatu.

Vanuatu were also unable to play their opening round match in Group A against Tahiti and have since withdrawn from the competition.

Solomon Islands and Tahiti are scheduled to meet on Friday but it remains unclear if the Cook Islands will be able to field a team in their final group match.