Source: OFC MEDIA
AUCKLAND, New Zealand – The Junior All Whites took their first step in preparation for next year’s FIFA U-20 World Cup with a comprehensive 5-0 victory over their Fijian counterparts at Bill McKinlay Park in Auckland on Sunday evening.
For New Zealand U-20 coach Darren Bazeley a cautious approach was applied to the side’s first international of the year as they build up to next year’s FIFA U-20 World Cup.
“It was potentially a difficult game, I’ve watched Fiji play and they’ve got some good players,” Bazeley says.
“The plan was to dominate possession and create that pressure and I think we managed to do that throughout most of the game. The first 15 minutes was quite even and once we got the first goal I think we stepped on little bit and played well throughout the game.”
For the Ravinesh Kumar coached Fiji U-20 the match put an end to the four-game winning streak they’ve enjoyed since embarking on their 17-day tour of New Zealand.
“Playing against New Zealand was a good learning experience for the players,” Kumar says.
“This loss is just part of the process, it’s not about winning or losing it’s all about the performance and what we wanted to achieve worked well.
“The goals which went in, we’re not worried about those. Yes we’re going to work on the mistakes of how these goals were scored, but we’re happy with the boys.”
It was a slow start on a cold evening for both sides as they got acquainted with each other, easing into the encounter with a bit of back-and-forth.
New Zealand took charge in the 25th minute when Australian-based striker Tomislav Trbuhovic slammed home a volley to open the scoring. Fiji followed this with a few close encounters of their own, but off-target shots combined with the safe hands of keeper Oliver Sail kept them off the board.
With the first-half nearing a close the Junior All Whites edged further ahead when Clayton Lewis got on the end of an Alex Rufer delivery, blasting it past an outstretched Shaneel Naidu in goal for Fiji.
Not content to head into the break with a mere two goal lead, New Zealand capitalised on a free kick awarded when Rufer took a tumble on the edge of the penalty area. The resulting effort from Monty Patterson curled around the wall and in at the back post to take New Zealand 3-0 up.
Trbuhovic nabbed his brace eight minutes after the restart with a glancing header off a Lewis corner. The fifth and final goal came in the 82 minute when substitute Andrew Blake beat substitute keeper Misiwani Nairube in a one-on-one for the Junior All Whites fifth unanswered goal.
While a five goal deficit is never easy to stomach, Kumar is confident it is just a bump in the road as Fiji put in the hard yards in a bid to qualify for their first FIFA U-20 World Cup.
“We need more matches, this is the first game against New Zealand and a couple more against a side like this will put us perfectly placed to make a strong bid for the OFC U-20 Championship title.”
The side’s will meet again on Tuesday before Fiji returns home ahead of the OFC qualifying tournament in Suva at the end of the month.
“We will analyse the game and look at where we made mistakes and hopefully we can rectify those. The next game will be a little different I think,” says Kumar.
Counterpart Bazeley is also looking forward to the match but like Kumar, won’t be making too many changes to his approach.
“We’ve got a good squad of players and we’ll give different players an opportunity to play and look at them. It’s great that we’re getting these games and getting the opportunity to train as a group and play internationals.
“There’s a danger in these games that everybody tries to do well and score and look good, and forgets to do the defending and the hard work but I thought today we did well.”
The two sides will meet again on Tuesday night at North Harbour Stadium at 6.30pm.
New Zealand 5 (Tomislav TRBUHOVIC 25’, 53’; Clayton LEWIS 43’, Monty PATTERSON 45+3’, Andrew BLAKE 82’)
New Zealand U-20: 1-Oliver SAIL (GK / 12-Ruben PARKER 65’), 4-Cory BROWN (2-Finn COCHRAN 52’), 5-Adam MITCHELL (c), 7-Alex RUFER (11-Joel STEVENS 65’), 8-Alex PALEZEVIC, 13-Tamupiwa DIMAIRO (14-Scott MIDGLEY 52’), 15-Daniel BOWKETT, 17-Clayton LEWIS (16-Judd BAKER 72’), 18-Monty PATTERSON (19-Andrew BLAKE 65’), 20-Thomas PROBERT, 21-Tomislav TRBUHOVIC.
Substitutes not used: 6-Andre DE JONG, 9-Stuart HOLTHUSEN.
Coach: Darren BAZELEY
Cautions: Tamupiwa DIMAIRO 13’
Fiji U-20: 1-Shaneel NAIDU (GK / 20-Misiwani NAIRUBE 46’), 2-Pranil NAIDU, 3-Samuela NABENIA, 7-Garish PRASAD (13-Buksia NALULU 86’), 8-Iosefo VAREVOU, 9-Setariki HUGHES (18-Tevita WARANAINALU 67’), 11-Narendra RAO (4-Mataiasi TOMA 82’), 12-Saula WAQA, 14-Jale DRELOA (c), 15-Antomia TUIVUNA, 17-Kolinio SIVOKI.
Substitutes not used: 5-Samuela SANO, 6-Naidu KELVIN, 10-Ravnit CHAND, 16-Ashnil RAJU, 19-Josefa KOROI.
Coach: Ravinesh KUMAR