Fiji outclassed, PNG victory at FIFA Oceania qualifiers

Papua New Guinea playing against New Zealand in Doha. PHOTO: PNG Football Association

Fiji outclassed by strong New Zealand side

After a 2 – 1 win over New Caledonia in the first round, Fiji has suffered a devastating 4 – 0 loss to New Zealand in their second outing at the FIFA Oceania qualifying tournament.

English Premier League and Newcastle United star Chris Wood scored a double in the match to help the All Whites dominate the Fijians.

His 73rd-minute goal makes him the outright leading goal scorer for the All Whites and vindicated his selection straight into the lineup after arriving in Doha just days before the match.

The All Whites were playing some marvellous football and Fiji were feeling the heat. Soon afterwards, Lekima Gonerau and Ashnil Raju succumbed to the pressure and were both issued yellow cards for in play indiscretions.

Ben Waine and Wood were linking up well and were a nightmare for the rattled Fijians who looked to be in awe of New Zealand’s masterclass performance in most parts of game.

Next up, Fiji will look to redeem themselves as they take on Papua New Guinea on Friday 25 March at 5am FT.

Strong defense was key to Papua New Guinea’s win

Despite reports of COVID positive players and staff, on field action returned to FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Oceania Qualifiers in Doha, with Papua New Guinea beating New Caledonia 1-0 in a physical but wildly entertaining encounter at Suhaim Bin Hamad Stadium.

Both sides made several changes to their starting XI’s after first round losses, Papua New Guinea holding top-ranked New Zealand to a solitary goal while New Caledonia went down 2-1 to an impressive Fiji.

Papua New Guinea goalkeeper Ronald Warisan was instrumental for his revived side as he put his body on the line to keep New Caledonia from scoring right from the get-go.

But it was the Papua New Guinea side that cashed in on their first real chance, as the ball was lofted down field to Tommy Semmy in the eighth minute. Semmy showed excellent composure to beat defender Jean-Brice Wadriako with a nice touch and then slam home a right footed shot from the edge of the box.

Stahl Gubag and Felix Komolong also contributed immensely in defense as Papua New Guinea parried off any strong attack from New Caledonia.

The end-to-end action continued right until the final whistle, but the Papua New Guinea side held on to record a much-needed win. Warisan was outstanding in goal, made even more impressive by the fact that he was troubled by what looked to be a hamstring injury throughout. His contribution to the dramatic match was crucial in securing a memorable victory for Papua New Guinea.

Both sides are scheduled back in action on Friday 5am FT, with Papua New Guinea facing Fiji, while New Caledonia play New Zealand.

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