Monday, June 5, 2023
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NZ dash Baby Bula Boys’ hopes of a WC spot

The Baby Bula Boys’ campaign for an Under-17 FIFA World Cup spot came to an unceremonious end after their Oceania Football Confederation semi-final loss to New Zealand 4-1 at the HFC Bank Stadium this evening

The win sees New Zealand and first semi-final winner New Caledonia qualify from Oceania.

New Zealand started the game with great intent and after thwarting early pressure, scored the first goal of the game through Adam Watson only six minutes after the start.

The Baby Bula Boys brought the crowd to its feet when a free kick in the 13th minute from captain Aron Naicker found Salimone Ravonokula in the box to score the equaliser.

Indiscipline crept in and Naicker and Watisoni Batirerega were flashed yellow cards midway in the first half, as moments in defence became heated.

The sides went to the breather locked at 1-all and the second half was building to be a finale of sorts.

New Zealand midfielder Luka Coveny copped a yellow card at the restart for a stern challenge on Delon Shankar.

The black machine kept up their tempo and the aggressive attack paid dividends in the 49th minute with Watson reading a lapse in the Fiji defence to get his double.

Kiwi striker Matthew D’Hotman de Villers also copped a yellow-card 56 minutes in for an off the ball situation.

The New Zealanders looked to have the upper edge pressing Fiji time and time again into their own half.

Luke Supyk would score the sides third goal of the match on 71 minutes further dousing the homeside morale.

Watson who had been instrumental all night completed his hat-trick of goals on 79 minutes with no reply from the boys in white.

New Zealand held the line to win.

Baby Bula Boys line-up:
Ilisoni Koro, Aron Naicker, Isimeli Gavidi, Prashant Kumar, Richard Swami, Sallimone Ravonokula, Ibraheem Afazal, Delon Shankar, Watisoni Batirerega, William Khan, Jacob Seninawanawa. Substitutions: Savenaca Nabati, Kartik Sharma, Waisea Nagonelevu, Sahil Deo, Peni Misipopi, Vilikesa Vosagaga, Neeraj Sharma, Petero Maivalenisau, Nirav Kumar, Vinayak Rao

New Zealand line-up:
Matthew Foord, Luka Coveny, Anton Isaako, Dylan Gardiner, Luke Supyk, Jackson Cole, Harry Huxford, Harrison Tisch, Anaru Cassidy, Adam Watson, Matthew D’Hotman de Villers. Substitutions: Josua Brown, Eamon McCaron, Ryan Lee, Marley Leuluai, Eric Imachi Sugahara, Konstantino Gorgiovski, Luke Flowerdew, James Ray, Nicholas Murphy, Jesper Edwards, Gabriel Sloane-Rodrigues, Niko Bruce

Noa Biudole
Noa Biudole
Journalist |


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