All Whites win Oceania Nations Cup final for sixth time

The All Whites have claimed the Oceania Nations Cup with a 3-0 win over a competitive Vanuatu in Port Vila.

Two late goals sealed the All Whites’ dominance after a early strike just two minutes into the match from Cam Howieson put them in front.

It was New Zealand’s sixth Nations Cup title and completed an impressive tournament, as they remained unbeaten and had no goals scored against them, while tallying 15 themselves.

After beating Vanuatu 4-0 earlier in the tournament, the All Whites were favoured to repeat the scoreline. And that feeling intensified after just two minutes, when Howieson slammed in a spectacular goal on the volley. Kosta Barbarouses had initially lined up for a shot but it was blocked by a defender. The ball rebounded to Howieson who let rip with a shot into the right corner of the net.

But despite the All Whites controlling most of the play they couldn’t add to their total before halftime against a side giving their all in their first Nations Cup final, backed by fanatical backing from the local crowd and on a pitch that was bumpy in places making passing difficult.

Vanuatu remained competitive despite the attacking strength of the All Whites, and veteran striker Kensi Tangis came on to assist their cause, but in the heat of the battle Timothy Boulet received a second yellow card leaving them a man down.

Jesse Randall put paid to hopes of a Vanuatu resurgence, finishing off a counterattack to claim his first international goal in the 84th minute.

Substitute Max Mata finished it all off in stoppage time, scoring his third goal of the tournament thanks to brilliant lead-up skilles from Liberato Cacace, the player of the match.

All Whites coach Darren Bazeley said the team was ”pretty good again”.

“The pitch made it difficult to play a certain way but I thought we were pretty good again,” he told Fifa+. “We scored an early goal and maybe thought we could go on and do well there from that moment, but we came up against a team full of heart in Vanuatu.”

“They played some good football but they didn’t really hurt us – we were in control most of it but we didn’t put them away. They stayed in the game, and that was credit to Vanuatu.

Bazeley said he had concerns for the safety of his players with some of the challenges from the Vanuatu players. “They were pretty physical and pretty compettitive which made for an interesting game.”

The coach said he was proud of his players. “They’ve put in a big shift the last two weeks and managed all these games. We’ve gone through the tournament winning every game and haven’t conceded a goal – potentially the last kick of the game was the closest they came to scoring.

“So overall we did really well.”

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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