NZ Football’s report on their Vanuatu match at the OFC Futsal Championships
Tournament favourites Solomon Islands will play Vanuatu in the other semi final after topping Group B following their 16-0 thrashing of Tuvalu. Earlier in the day Tahiti secured their place in the last four after a gripping 2-2 draw with rivals New Caledonia, while Fiji’s 23-2 demolition of Kiribati was not enough to keep their championship hopes alive. The winner of the tournament will represent Oceania at the 2012 FIFA Futsal World Cup in Thailand.
The Futsal Whites were out of the blocks early in last night’s top of Group A clash, with a classy solo effort from Jakub Sinkora and a close range finish from target Nathan Robertson giving the New Zealanders an early two goal lead.
Two Don Mansale thunderbolts either side of half time levelled the scores for Vanuatu before Robertson crashed in his second from a wide angle to make it 3-2.
Dylan Manickum then somehow slid the ball against the post with the goal gaping after some slick New Zealand interplay and from the rebound, Vanuatu swept down the other end for Masale to make it 3-3.
Manickum made amends with a superb run and quality finish before target Mickey Malivuk’s shot on the turn appeared to make the game safe for the Futsal Whites.
A fourth Vanuatu strike from Freddy Vava gave New Zealand another scare, after which Malivuk and Manickum combined perfectly with Greg O’Connor, who rounded the keeper and stroked the ball home to restore the two goal cushion.
There was to be no repeat of the Monday night meltdown against Fiji and the Futsal Whites managed to wind down the clock successfully to finish top of Group A, thus avoiding a semi final clash with four time OFC champions Solomon Islands.
A buoyant Matt Chandler was delighted to make the last four and paid tribute to a great collective effort from his side.
“Vanuatu are a much improved side, so to beat them and finish top is a tremendous achievement and it shows how far we’ve come as a group. Tonight was about character and the players showed a lot of it. We defended our lead really well,” said Chandler.
“We also talked today about how important it is for players to have their moments at the right time during the game and for us, a number of the lads did that tonight,” he added.
Chandler also commended his targets, Malivuk, Robertson and Daniel Koprivcic who all the held the ball up well against a very physical Vanuatu defence and managed to link up with the advancing runners.
Flankers Manickum and Sinkora also injected pace into the Futsal Whites attacks at crucial times, and their ability to beat players and finish with precision were critical factors in the final reckoning.
OFC Futsal Championships 2011
Winner qualifies for FIFA Futsal World Cup Thailand 2012
May 18, 2011
New Zealand (Jakub SINKORA 5’35″, Nathan ROBERTSON 6’39″, 23’26″; Dylan MANICKUM 26’24″, Micky MALIVUK 26’32″, Greg O’CONNOR 33’59″)
Vanuatu (Don MANSALE 19’28″, 22’43″, 24’33″; Fredy VAVA 31’54″)
New Zealand v Tahiti
Thursday 19 May, 5pm
Vodafone Arena, Suva
Solomon Islands v Vanuatu
Thursday 19 May, 7.30pm
Vodafone Arena, Suva