All Whites (New Zealand national football team)

All Whites Reached World Cup 2022 Play-offs Losing Solomon Islands

All Whites (New Zealand national football team) reached play-offs of the FIFA World Cup 2022 after losing Solomon Island. The New Zealand team overcame their last hurdle by beating Solomon Islands 5-0 in the final of the Oceania Tournament in Doha on Thursday morning.

It was a surefire performance from the All Whites in an open game, with Bill Tuiloma’s early goal fixing a nerve just before Chris Wood extended the lead just before halftime.

New Zealand took the most advantage of their height with two goals from the set piece, and Solomon keeper Philip Mango was a nerve knight, a Joe Bell Corner to score the third goal over his head, before Tuiloma again became unrivaled in the far post. Inflate the score line further before Matt Garbett’s injury time strike.

New Zealand also beat Papua New Guinea 1-0, Fiji 4-0 and New Caledonia 7-1 to finish top of Group B before grinding out a 1-0 win over a defensive Tahiti side and thumping the Solomon Islands 5-0 in the knockout stages.

All Whites (New Zealand national football team)

Crucially, the All Whites managed to get through without any Covid-19 related issues.

Cook Islands and Vanuatu both had to withdraw from the tournament – in Vanuatu’s case without even kicking a ball – after experiencing outbreaks, while the Solomon Islands lost two of their key defenders after they tested positive in the lead-up to the final, forcing the entire squad to undergo further testing.

They All Whites also managed to avoid losing anyone to suspension ahead of the intercontinental playoff in June with Winston Reid and Liberato Cacace not risked in the final as they were sitting on yellow cards.

Danny Hay’s team now face a shot at their holy grail; a single leg playoff against the fourth placed CONCACAF qualifier (almost certainly Costa Rica) in mid-June, with the victor getting one of the last golden tickets to the World Cup.

That’s the tantalising prospect for the All Whites, after completing their Oceania assignment.

It was complicated at times – especially with churn of players throughout the event – and the Solomon Islands, ranked second in the region (142) behind New Zealand (111) – looked like they would provide the sharpest test yet, especially in the first half.

But the Bonitos willingness to take the game to the All Whites, unlike Tahiti’s negative but functional approach, meant there was space in behind and out wide, which New Zealand were able to exploit more and more as the match progressed.

As an illustration of their depth, the All Whites also prevailed with Winston Reid and Libby Cacace – left out to mitigate risk of a possible suspension for the June match.

The Solomons had their moments, with Raphael Leai forcing a couple of good interventions from goal keeper Stefan Marinovic, but the All Whites stamped their authority on the contest after the first 30 minutes.

Tuiloma was again a standout, while Bell and Stamenic controlled the midfield proceedings and Wood was a constant threat.

Hay made six changes from the starting semi-final XI, with only Marinovic, Tuiloma, Nando Pijnaker, Bell and Wood retained. It meant New Zealand started their most important game since 2017 without Reid and Cacace, an unusual but pragmatic scenario, given the duo were one yellow card away from being suspended for a potential intercontinental playoff in June. Alex Greive was risked, despite being in the same situation, while Tommy Smith, Francis de Vries, Tim Payne, Stamenic and Logan Rogerson were the others brought in.

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