International football action returns to Oceania

Photo: OFC

Several international friendlies took place over the last week in Fiji and New Zealand, with some excellent football on display.

Fiji hosted a three team tournament, involving Vanuatu and Solomon Islands. In the first match last Monday, Vanuatu beat Fiji 2-1 after the scores were locked 1-1 at halftime.

Two second half goals gave Solomon Islands a 2-0 win over Vanuatu on Thursday, with Gagame Feni finding the back of the net. The Solomons striker was on target in their final match on Sunday against Fiji, scoring two more in a 2-0 win.

While they didn’t get the results they were after, Fiji hosted a fine tournament that brought together our member associations in meaningful competition.

Meanwhile, New Zealand took on China in two matches. The first, in Auckland, ended in a 0-0 draw.

The second, in Wellington, saw deadlock broken in the first half. A Marco Rojas free kick searching for the head of Michael Boxall found a Chinese defender instead who deflected it into his own net. While it was unfortunate, the All Whites lead at the break was deserved.

The start of second half saw the All Whites continue to dominate possession and have the better chances.

As a game went on substitutes Clayton Lewis, Max Mata, Callan Elliot and Matt Garbett entered the field. Just 6 minutes after his introduction, Matt Garbett doubled the All Whites lead with a well taken goal in the 81st minute. Some neat passing between Joe Bell and Clayton Lewis opened up the space for Bell to play a pinpoint ball over the top to the Garbett who had made a late run into the box. He trapped the ball on his chest before turning and finishing past the keeper. Ba Dun scored a consolation goal for China just before the final whistle.

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