Fri, Sep 07, 2007 - Page 23 News List

Fiji face New Caledonia in Oceania final


Fiji and New Caledonia will meet in today's final of the Oceania Football Confederation World Cup soccer qualifying tournament after taking varying courses through the semi-finals on Wednesday.

New Caledonia needed a goal in the final seconds of stoppage time to take a 3-2 win over a Solomon Islands team reduced to nine men, while Fiji beat Vanuatu 3-0, helped by a penalty deftly taken by Osea Vakatalesau.

Today's final will decide the tournament but both finalists and the winner of the third place playoff between the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu will qualify for the second tournament -- a four-country event with New Zealand.

The winner of that tournament will then play home and away games against the fifth-placed team from the Asian Confederation qualifiers, with the winner advancing to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Yohann Mercier scored with the last kick of the game to give New Caledonia its 3-2 win over the Solomon Islands, reduced to nine men when Alick Maemae and Gideon Omikirio each incurred two yellow cards.

New Caledonia opened the scoring in the 34th minute when Poulidor Toto squared to Iamel Kabeu in front of goal and Kabeu found enough space to send a powerful drive wide of the Solomons keeper.

The Solomons equalized in the 40th minute when Judd Molea found Henry Fa'arodo from a free kick near the left hand corner and Fa'arodo headed home.

Fiji led Vanuatu 1-0 at halftime after Pita Balietoga rocketed the ball home from 40 meters a minute before the break.

Vakatalesau made it 2-0 with his strike from the penalty spot in the 66th minute and Roy Krishna thundered home a left-foot shot three minutes later to make the win secure.

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