New Zealand has overcome a ferocious challenge from the Solomon Islands to advance to the final of the OFC Futsal Nations Cup 2023, where they will face Tahiti.

In a match low on clear cut chances, it was the more clinical Kiwis who took the chances presented to them as the Solomon Islands struggled to assert themselves.

For the first time in five World Cup cycles a country other than the Solomon Islands will represent Oceania at the FIFA Futsal World Cup.

Any nerves that the hosts may have held were eased within the first five minutes. A quick kick-in presented the ball to Logan Wisnewski and he rattled a first-time effort high into the roof of the net to give New Zealand the lead.

Micah Lea’alafa almost produced a carbon copy effort at the other end but his shot rose too high, clearing the crossbar of Kiwi ‘keeper Mike Antamanov.

With only a few minutes left in the first-half, New Zealand grabbed what would prove to be a crucial second. A through ball found No.9 Stephen Ashby-Peckham and when goalkeeper Cliff Sasau could only parry the ball, Ashby-Peckham was on hand to convert the rebound.

The Solomon Islands were handed a lifeline minutes into the second-half. A short corner was laid off to Charlie Otainao and first-time shot was too fast for Antamanov, finding the net through the stopper’s legs.

The joy would be short-lived however, as the Kiwis worked a kick-in to Rahan Ali and his smart lay-off was side-footed low into the net by Casey Sharplin.

Solomon Islands valiant efforts to find a way back in were thwarted late on however, when Calvin Do’oro was shown a red card following his second yellow of the evening in the 35th minute.

Despite a goal in the final minute from Elis Mana, New Zealand held on to clinch victory – aided by a goal from goalkeeper Mike Antamanov, taking advantage of an unguarded Solomon Islands’ net.

New Zealand: 4 (Logan WISNEWSKI 4′, Stephen ASHBY-PECKHAM 18′, Casey SHARPLIN 28′, Mike ANTAMANOV 40′)
Solomon Islands: 2 (Charlie OTAINAO 26′, Elis MANA 40′)

HT: 2-0

Source: OFC