New Zealand have qualified for the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup by beating Tahiti 4-1 in their OFC U16 Championship semi-final in the Solomon Islands on Wednesday evening.
New Zealand were fast out of the blocks, Oskar Van Hattum giving them the lead just a few moments after kick-off before Henry Hamilton took his tournament goal tally to six with a quick-fire double.
That gave the Kiwis a well-deserved 3-0 lead with under 25 minutes on the clock and they went on to complete the job in the second half, Matthew Garbett stroking home from the spot to help book his country a ticket to Peru.
With so much riding on the outcome, an early goal to settle the nerves would have been exactly what Jose Figueira was after and his players didn’t disappoint, a quick free kick from Hamilton allowing Van Hattum to be played in on goal and he rounded goalkeeper Josselin Capel to slot home in just the second minute.
It got even better around ten minutes later as Matthew Garbett found space down the right to pick out leading marksman Hamilton at the back post and he beat Capel to place one New Zealand foot in Peru. Both feet were all but firmly planted in South America when Hamilton hit his second, again turning in from close range after outstanding work by Van Hattum on the right and a saved shot from Garbett.
New Zealand were now threatening to run riot and Tahiti had barely had a sniff of goal but the French Polynesians provided more resistance in the second period and were in fact next to find the net some time later, Tekaki Sangue giving them faint hope with just over ten minutes remaining.
But any prospect of a remarkable comeback was stamped out just a few minutes later when the dangerous Van Hattum was brought down in the box and Garbett coolly side-footed his penalty into the bottom corner to restore the three-goal cushion.
Safe in the knowledge their spot in Peru is secure, New Zealand will now take on hosts Solomon Islands in the OFC U-16 Championship final on Saturday and Figueira is expecting his players to be up for the challenge.
“I think it sets up a really good final and I guess we don’t need much motivation after the last result against them,” he says.
“We’ll let the boys enjoy it tonight and reflect on what they’ve accomplished but we want to get the job done in the last game.”
Tahiti 1 (Tekaki Sangue 79’)
New Zealand 4 (Oskar Van Hattum 2’, Henry Hamilton 13’, 24’, Matthew Garbett pen 82’)
New Zealand: 12. Luca Taylor (GK), 2. Max Drake, 3. Kris Naicker, 5. Ryan Verney (19. Hayden Aish 62’), 6. Campbell Strong (c), 7. Marko Stamenic, 8. Jackson Manuel, 9. Henry Hamilton (15. Bradley Wilson 59’), 11. Matthew Garbett, 14. Oskar Van Hattum (4. Adam Hillis 84’), 17. Nathan Lobo
Substitutes not used: 1. Alex Paulsen (GK), 10. Joseph Lee, 13. Finn O’Connor, 16. Sean Bright, 18. Benjamin Old, 20. Harry Bark
Cautions: Marko Stamenic 37’, Henry Hamilton 57’
Coach: Jose Figueira
A long season of hard-work and dedication paid off for the Baradene First XI on Saturday, winning the NZSS Girls Premier Lotto tournament in Taupo.
Second in the Auckland Provincial Championship, Baradene went one better in Taupo, beating Hamilton Girls’ High School 3-1 in the final to claim the school’s maiden NZSS Premier title.
“When the final whistle blew in the final, the girls were just ecstatic,” said team manager Bernadette Goulding. “This was the first time Baradene had been in a national final and to win it for the first time was special for the players and everyone involved.”
What set Baradene apart from the other 31 teams at Taupo?
“We have a star team, not a team of stars,” said Bernadette. “Hannah Pilley had a great tournament, getting our MVP and winning the tournament Golden Boot [joint with Natalie Ohlson from WEGC], while year 10 player Prue Catton and year 11 Petra Buyck and year 13 Olivia Gordon were three other consistent players for us all week. But overall all the girls played out of their skins and played well together.”
Victory for Baradene over Hamilton was also sweeter as they had lost to them 3-2 on the opening afternoon of the tournament.
“Things just weren’t going right for us that game, we had the majority of the chances and they had three chances and scored off all of them. It was also 2-2 up until the last minute when Hamilton scored the winner.”
This meant they finished second in Pool D, also beating Nelson Girls’ College 5-0 and Hutt Valley High School 4-0 in pool play.
In the round of 16 they beat Pool H winners New Plymouth Girls’ High School 2-1 to advance to the quarter-finals, where they would beat Wellington’s St Mary’s College 6-2 after being 1-0 down virtually from the opening kick-off and then 4-1 up at halftime.
“The quarter-final win was probably our best game, everything went well and worked for us.”
Then on to the semi-final.
“We played Palmerston Norths Girls’ High School, who were very strong and unlucky to not make the final.
Baradene won the semi-final 4-1, but this didn’t reflect the game. “On the day they played the better football. We had five or six chances and we scored off four of them.”
“It showed the quality of our team though, we weren’t playing as well as we did in the quarter-final but we were still able to put away our chances.”
Hamilton Girls’ High School beat Epsom Girls’ Grammar School in a penalty shootout in the other semi-final.
The final itself was played in a strong wind, which was a factor in how it played out.
Baradene played against the wind in the first half, and went up 1-0 through a goal to playmaking year 10 player Prue Catton. Hamilton equalised and it was all square.
“Hamilton scored about 10 minutes before halftime, so the coaches were thinking at that point that we just need to get through to halftime and we would be okay because we will have the wind next. We were literally holding on, but we got through.”
Hannah Pilley was the tournament’s Golden Boot with nine goals overall, but few were more important than the one she scored early in the second half latching on to a Petra Buyck cross that put Baradene up 2-1.
“That is when we started to look stronger. With 10 minutes to go our substitute Charlotte Gordon found herself in space and slotted the winner.”
Baradene’s win was the first by their school, but maintains a grip on the title by Auckland schools. Saint Kentigern College won last year and before that Mount Albert Grammar School won a four-peat between 2013-16.
In the Auckland competition, Baradene came third in the first part of the season, and then in the Auckland Provincial Championship (APC) they reached the final against St Kent’s.
“We had an excellent game in the APC final. It was 2-2 at fulltime. It went into extra time and it was still 2-2, but they won on a penalty shootout.”
Just three players are school leavers in 2018, so the immediate future of Baradene appears promising.
After a long season playing for school, club and in some cases representative teams, most players are having a break now from playing as school and mock exams take precedence this week. Many players also play futsal so that will be coming up next for them.
Meanwhile, recent Auckland winners and defending NZSS champions St Kent’s could only finish ninth in Taupo, while MAGS were 25th overall.
Epsom Girls’ Grammar School, who came third in Auckland, also came third in Taupo by beating Palmerston North GHS 2-1 in the 3 v 4 match.
The leading South Island school was Burnside High School who finished fifth, one place ahead of St Andrew’s College who they beat 5-4 in the 5 v 6 match.
Westlake Girls’ High School won the Trevor Osten Memorial Trophy for winning the 17-32 knockout rounds. Westlake GHS beat Sacred Heart College, New Plymouth, 1-0 in the final.
The Baradene College NZSS winning team was:
Coach: Ryan Shiffman
Manager: Bernadette Goulding
Coordinator: Rachel Buyck
From fifth in Wellington to fourth in New Zealand, the rollercoaster ride of the St Patrick’s College, Wellington (Town) First XI football team is one of the more remarkable stories in college sport in 2018.
Had the ball bounced in a different direction and some greater administrative empathy been applied, it’s quite conceivable Town could have successfully defended their Premier Youth Wellington title and won the Nationals.
Captain Samuel Mitrakas was convinced his team would perform strongly at Nationals, despite a disappointing conclusion to the Wellington Trevor Rigby Cup.
“I always had a feeling we’d do alright. Our luck had to change sometime. Our management prepared us really well both mentally and physically,” Mitrakas acclaims.
Town are coached by Harry Rickus (a young Englishman with a UEFA B badge) and Luc Townsend, a respected teacher.
July 28, is the last round of Premier Youth Wellington competition before the teams are divided into a top four/bottom four section - a change in format from the previous season where the top two teams automatically qualified for the final.
Town only needs a solitary point to absolutely guarantee their place in the top four, but lose 1-2 to Wellington College leaving three teams tied on the same number of points.
Despite beating Rongotai College and St Patrick’s College, Silverstream, the other schools involved, Town is demoted to the bottom four because of an inferior goal difference.
Law 16.1 of the College Sport Wellington Football handbook states:
“The process for differentiating two teams tied on round robin competition points shall be: a. The team who won the most recent competition match between those two teams shall be afforded the higher rank.”
However Law 20 relating to semis and finals is applied. That rule states.
“In the case of teams being equal on competition points they will be differentiated firstly on goal difference in all competition games.”
“We thought we were through,” Mitrakas admits.
“We found out at Wednesday practice we were in the bottom four. We were absolutely gutted, but we don’t control the rules so we had no choice but to pick ourselves up,” he continued.
The top four teams played each other in a round-robin series before the top two advanced to the final. The absence of a one-off semi-final was the source of the confusion.
Given the choice would Mitrakas have structed the competition differently?
“I don’t know. I don’t mind the top four. I guess there's lots of way you can structure a competition,” Mitrakas answered.
There was nothing confusing about Town’s response. In the bottom four they defeated Tawa College (4-0), Scots College (2-1) and Wairarapa College (8-1) with Mitrakas scoring in all three games.
Ironically Silverstream, the team with the worst record against Rongotai and Town in the earlier round, lost to Hutt International Boys’ School in the final having beaten HIBS twice previously. HIBS were the lowest finishing Wellington team at Nationals coming in 24th place.
Town was grouped in Pool B at Nationals alongside New Plymouth Boys’ High School, Lincoln High School and perennial contenders Sacred Heart College. The first two fixtures were identified as a ‘must-win.’
A heavy downpour played a major role in the New Plymouth match.
“It was played on grass which made the pitch really muddy. We scored an early goal and were able to sit back a bit more because it was hard to create chances. We scored another goal and won 2-0,” Mitrakas reflects.
There would be no sitting back against Lincoln High School.
“I thought Lincoln would do a lot better than what they ended up doing. We beat them 1-0 and had to really work for it,” Mitrakas shared.
Both Town and Sacred Heart were through to the Round of 16 by the time they met which allowed both sides to rest some key players. However Town were eager to show they could compete against the 2016 champions.
“We didn’t want to roll over. We had to show we could compete against a very strong Auckland team. A 1-1 draw gave us a lot of confidence,” Mitrakas asserted.
St Andrew’s College (1-0) and King’s College, Auckland (2-0) were dispatched in the Round of 16 and quarter final respectively establishing a rematch with Sacred Heart in the semi.
An even battle was locked up at 0-0 approaching the end of regulation. Mitrakas captures what happened next.
“We won a penalty in referee’s time. If I scored with the last kick of the game we would’ve won, but the keeper made a great save. The game went to a shootout and I was always going to be the first shooter for us. I missed again,” Mitrakas morns.
Sacred Heart prevailed 5-3 and went onto win the final against Mount Albert Grammar School.
In the playoff for third Town faced St Kentigern College who had beaten Sacred Heart twice and romped to the Premier League title in Auckland. More anguish was to follow.
“St Kent’s were a really good possession side, but we gave as good as we got. They won by scoring a goal with the last play of the game,” Mitrakas rues.
Year 11 striker Nathan Simes, goalkeeper Themba Clarke and defender Lachlan O'Connor were among Town’s standouts.
Regular Wellington Phoenix starter Liberato Cacace was absent.
“Liberato is a class player and there's no doubt he would’ve made a difference, but we’ve played most of the season without him so I'm not sure how much we could of changed things,” Mitrakas observers.
Town’s finish is the best by a Wellington school since St Patrick’s College, Silverstream lost the final to Sacred Heart in 2011.
“I’m really proud of the boys. There's lots of leaders in the team and we could have fell apart after Wellington,” Mitrakas concluded.
Mitrakas plays for senior football for Wellington Olympic in the Central and Capital leagues. In 2019 he intends to work, play and study with the goal of earning a scholarship to the USA in 2020.
“We have a big rivalry with St Kent’s. We never want to lose to St Kent’s. When we lost the league to them we resolved the only way to get them back was to win Nationals,” Kingsley Sinclair from the Sacred Heart College First XI football team says.
Despite surrendering the Auckland Premiership for the first time in four seasons, Sacred Heart won the National title for the fourth occasion in the last eight years in Christchurch on Friday.
Goals from Max Ongley, Joel Clissold and Riwai Stanton earned a 3-0 victory in the final against Mount Albert Grammar School.
MAGS was only fifth in Auckland, 21 points behind St Kent’s, but Sinclair was unsurprised to see their fellow Auckland adversaries in the decider. MAGS eliminated St Kent’s in the National semi-final with a Thomas Golding double the telling difference.
“Tournament football is different to league football. It’s about being the best team on the day and comes down to team spirit, luck and risk. MAGS are a good side. They are conditioned by the same coach we have so they’re fit and play a similar style,” Sinclair explains.
Sacred Heart had drawn their last encounter with MAGS 4-4, but he believes collective leadership was the key to reversing that result.
“I’m officially the captain, but I believe we’re all captains,” Sinclair asserts.
“We’ve got a lot of experienced players and it’s the job of the seniors to help the juniors step up,” Sinclair continued.
The fickle nature of tournament football was best illustrated by Sacred Heart’s struggles against St Patrick’s College, Wellington. St Pats failed to make the top four in the capital, but held Sacred Heart to a 1-1 draw in pool play and then reached the National semi-final which was decided in a penalty shootout after both team's hit the woodwork multiple times in regulation.
“The semi-final was the toughest game. We knew they would come out firing after the group game. They’re a really good side. They fight hard for the whole 90 minutes. Both teams wanted it bad and we did get a little bit lucky,” Sinclair concedes.
Year 11 goalkeeper Declan Viljoen proved to be a hero saving a penalty with the last kick in regulation and three in the shootout which Sacred Heart won. Jack Duncan, Malcolm Young, Ongley, Stanton and Sinclair converted their chances.
“Declan’s been in the squad since Year 9. He's started this year. He’s been huge,” Sinclair acclaims.
Sinclair plays in the midfield additionally appearing in senior fixtures for Eastern Suburbs in the National League. Easts were beaten in the semi-finals by eventual winners Auckland City, but twice tamed 2017 champions Team Wellington.
Sinclair was born on the Gold Coast, but represented New Zealand at the Under-17 FIFA World Cup last year and was in the New Zealand Under-20 squad who won OFC U-19 Championship in Tahiti in August.
Sacred Heart National Results
Pool Play: Lincoln High School, 1-0
Pool Play: St Patrick’s College, Wellington, 1-1
Pool Play: New Plymouth Boys’ High School, 3-0
Round of 16: St Paul’s Collegiate, 2-0
Quarter Final: St Patrick’s College, Silverstream, 3-0
Semi-Final: St Patrick’s College, Wellington, 0-0 (Won on penalties)
Grand Final: Mount Albert Grammar School, 3-0
A double to Thomas Golding has booked Mt Albert Grammar School a spot in their first Lotto Premier Boys Final since the year they won the competition in 2012. Meanwhile Sacred Heart (Auckland) have made their fifth straight final in the row dating back to 2014.
Sacred Heart and St Pats Wellington who already met in a 1 all draw on Tuesday, will go down as one of the better semi finals for a while. Going all the way to spot kicks after an end to end affair, with both team's hitting the woodwork multiple times.
Sacred Heart were hoping to put to bed their last memory of penalties at a national tournament which was the final last year against Hamilton Boys High School. St Pats Wellington already has penalty practice at this tournament when they beat Nelson College in the Quarterfinal the day before.
Sacred Heart made amends for that penalty loss a year ago, as Kingsley Sinclair, Jack Duncan, Malcolm Young, Max Ongley and Riwai Stanton all converting from the spot as they booked a spot in the final for yet another a year.
A double to Thomas Golding had Mt Albert Grammar 2-0 up at half time, Dawson Straffon gave the unbeaten Auckland champions hope of sending to extra time for further. Despite pushing for the final goal it didn’t come and MAGS are in their first final since they beat Auckland Grammar back in ‘12.
In the earlier meeting Sacred Heart and Mt Albert Grammar School (MAGS) have had in the premier Auckland competition this year. Sacred Heart won the first one 4-0 but MAGS learned alot from that day and managed to hold Sacred Heart to a 4 All Draw in their second meeting later on in the season.
Sacred Heart tournament started well finishing top of Pool B. With a Milan Gross goal being the difference in a 1-0 win over Lincoln High School. They then dealt to New Plymouth Boys High School 3-0 and then that 1 all draw with St Pats Wellington. They then had a 2-0 win over St Paul’s (Hamilton) and a 3-0 win over St Pats Silverstream in the Round of 16 and Quarterfinals respectively. Before piping the only Wellington team left St Pats Wellington on penalties in yesterday’s semi final.
MAGS tournament started with a 2-1 win over Cashmere on Monday. They were then upset 2-1 by St Paul’s (Hamilton) but won a must win game over Wellington Champions Hutt International Boys School 1-0 to book a spot in the final 16. On Wednesday, they knocked of Kings High School 2-0 in the Round of 16 match. Then knocking Scots College out 4-3 in a high scoring affair that afternoon, then made it to the final with a 2-1 win over St Kentigern.
The two teams playoff in the final today at 1 PM.
The New Zealand go squad for the OFC U16 Football Championship this month has been selected.
The tournament is set to take place in the Solomon Islands from September 9 to 22 and 20 players have been named.
Two places for the 2019 U17 World Cup in Peru are available via Oceania qualifying.
The U-16 group will look to follow in the footsteps of their older counterparts, who have just qualified for the FIFA U-20 World Cup after winning the OFC U-19 Championship in Tahiti. The path to glory in French Polynesia was far from straightforward though and Figueira, who also coaches Team Wellington in the ISPS Handa Premiership, is expecting a stern examination of his squad’s abilities in Honiara.
New Zealand have been drawn in Group A with the hosts, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea while Group B consists of Fiji, New Caledonia, Tahiti and Samoa. The Solomon Islands is known as being the most football-mad nation in the South Pacific and fans regularly flock to Lawson Tama Stadium in their thousands to take in the action.
New Zealand open their OFC U-16 Championship campaign against Vanuatu on Sunday 9 September at 11am (NZT) with live coverage available via www.oceaniafootball.com
New Zealand squad for OFC U16 Championship
Alex Paulsen (Wellington United)
Luca Taylor (Birkenhead United)
Max Drake (North Shore United)
Kris Naicker (Wellington United)
Adam Hillis (Wellington United)
Finn O’Connor (Wellington United)
Nathan Lobo (Birkenhead United)
Harry Bark (North Shore United)
Ryan Verney (Onehunga Sports)
Campbell Strong (Eastern Suburbs)
Marko Stamenic (Western Suburbs)
Jackson Manuel (Wellington United)
Matthew Garbett (Western Suburbs)
Sean Bright (Western Suburbs)
Ben Old (Wellington United)
Hayden Aish (Western Springs)
Henry Hamilton (Wellington United)
Joseph Lee (Wellington United)
Oskar van Hattum (Wellington United)
Bradley Wilson (Western Springs)
Head coach: Jose Figueira
Assistant coach: Sam Wilkinson
Goalkeeping coach: Chris Marsh
Manager: Seamus Marten
Sports scientist: Weijie Lim
Physio: Justin Lopes
New Zealand schedule for OFC U-16 Championship
Vanuatu vs New Zealand
Sunday 9 September, 10am (11am NZT)
Lawson Tama Stadium, Honiara
Solomon Islands vs New Zealand
Wednesday 12 September, 3pm (4pm NZT)
Lawson Tama Stadium, Honiara
New Zealand vs Papua New Guinea
Saturday 15 September, 10am (11am NZT)
Lawson Tama Stadium, Honiara
Wednesday 19 September
Lawson Tama Stadium, Honiara
Saturday 22 September
Lawson Tama Stadium, Honiara
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