Team Wellington secured their place in the OFC Champions League football quarter finals with a lopsided 13-0 dismantling of Kiwi FC in Port Vila yesterday.
Ross Allen bagged six goals for the reigning champions from New Zealand, while Nathanael Hailemariam added a hat-trick, Daniel Mulholland netted a brace and Henry Cameron and Joel Stevens also got on the scoresheet.
Team Wellington head coach Jose Figueira made a number of changes for their second group match and was pleased with the contribution from the wider squad.
“I thought the boys were really professional again and it was nice to see the guys who came in today make an impact as well. It was a really good team effort today,” he said.
“Ross (Allen) is another example of a wider squad member coming in and doing his job against a team that sits very deep. He took his chances when they came and I’m very happy for him and the team.”
Samoan champions Kiwi FC are now out of quarter finals contention and coach Martin Tamasese conceded his team was outplayed by a far superior side.
“We knew that Team Wellington is not an easy team to beat, and while we came prepared, we have to take the result and we have no excuse. Now we have to focus on the next match,” he said.
Vanuatu’s Erakor Golden Star and Fiji’s Ba FC remain in contention for the remaining berth in the knockout rounds after a 1-1 draw in the late game at Korman Stadium.
Tony Kaltack put Erakor in front with a goal in first half stoppage time and the hosts had the chance to double their lead immediately after the restart, after Barry Mansale won a penaly, but Kaltfer Kaltack’s low shot cannoned off the left hand post.
The match opened up as Ba chased an equaliser and their efforts were finally rewarded when substitute Avinesh Suwamy scored with a long range low drive in the 81st minute.
Erakor won another penalty in stoppage time, following a goalmouth skirmish, but captain Jason Thomas but goalkeeper Misiwani Nairube was the hero for Ba, diving to his left to make a dramatic save and keep his side’s playoff hopes alive.
A rueful Erakor coach Benjamin Noel lamented his side’s inability to convert two penalty kicks.
“We should have scored at least three goals tonight, but sometimes the pressure of the crowd and the expectations can have an impact on players’ psychology,” he said.
“But I felt the boys improved from the first game and played really well against a tough Ba team. “
Ba’s Ronil Kumar was delighted his side were able to keep their quarter final dreams well and truly alive.
“We had a lot of chances and we could have scored but I’m really happy with the draw. Even though we were a goal behind at half time, they boys never lost hope. We knew if we kept on going and kept on trying that a goal would come.”
Meanwhile the second round of matches in Group D get underway in Honiara this afternoon.
Nine times champions Auckland City can book their place in the last eight with a win over Tupapa Maraerenga, while hosts Solomon Warriors can do the same against AS Magenta from New Caledonia.
(Source:Radio New Zealand)