New Zealand thump Tonga 14-0

New Zealand have put one foot in the semi-finals after a 14-0 trouncing of Tonga in the day’s opening Group A match of the OFC U-19 Championship at Stade Pater Thursday (local time).

Hoping to deliver another solid performance like their opening 45 against Papua New Guinea, Tonga came out buoyant and ready to deliver.

However the mood quickly turned when keeper Sionela Lui slipped, allowing Robert Tipelu to finish into an empty net in the 15th minute.

Conceding such an unfortunate early goal seemed to dampen Tongan spirits and it was all downhill from there for the Polynesian side as they struggled to hold up to the onslaught from their more experienced opponents.

Leading by example, New Zealand captain Joe Bell scored a hat-trick in the space of five minutes to help his team to a commanding 5-0 lead at the break. He was unlucky not to add a fourth when he netted at the far post, only to be judged offside by referee Salesh Chand.

New Zealand made two changes coming into the second half, including bringing in Olivier Whyte who had no intention of wasting the opportunity. He scored twice in quick succession after the restart, and added a third in the 89th minute to join his captain on a hat-trick.

Dane Schnell scored either side of the break while Charles Spragg had brace in the space of five minutes before he notched his third two minutes from time completing a hat-trick of hat-tricks for New Zealand.

The frustration grew for Tonga as Jordan Spain and Boyd Curry took the tally to 14, with Tuia Falepapalangi receiving two cautions and his marching orders with just under ten minutes remaining in the match.

New Zealand coach Des Buckingham gave credit to his players for a very professional display.

“Full credit to the players they enjoyed themselves and they showed what they were capable of doing,” he said.

“I think with us scoring a goal in the opening ten minutes it all opened up earlier than the previous game.”

The result means the defending champions lead Group A with six points from two matches as they head into a final group game against Papua New Guinea coming up on Saturday.

Despite a heavy defeat, the second loss in two matches for the Qualifier winners, Tonga coach Soane Mailangi opted to take some positives from the game.

“Like I said this is an opportunity for my players to play against New Zealand,” he said.

“After our time in the Cook Islands we knew this level was going to be hard.

“For me every result we are going to get in this tournament, it is a good thing to take back to Tonga. We learned new things here which will help us prepare for all future qualifiers.”

Match Day 4 of the OFC U-19 Championship will take place today (Tahiti time) when Group B returns to action with Solomon Islands taking on Fiji and New Caledonia meeting Vanuatu. The matches will all be at Stade Pater, a change from what was earlier advertised.


Photo file Caption: Tonga vs PNG