All Whites win, Lewis, Hudson-Wihongi play

Words: ACFC Media

Saturday 12 November 2016

Picture: Phototek

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Clayton Lewis and Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi both saw game time as the All Whites eased by New Caledonia 2-0 at QBE Stadium in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers today.

Lewis, who started the match for his sixth international cap, was substituted midway through the second half for Eastern Suburbs AFC's Moses Dyer, while Hudson-Wihongi came on to win his fourth replacing Ryan Thomas.

The OFC Nations Cup champions, who were looking to impress in their first home game in two years, continued their momentum and got off to the perfect start in their next step in qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia in front of 8,103 fans.

 Marco Rojas continued his rich vein of goal scoring form when he got the All Whites on the board in the 42nd minute. The 25-year-old, who has got back to his best form since returning to the A-League with Melbourne Victory, never gave up on the ball on the end of some slick passing, and hit a shot that took a deflection from keeper Thomas Schmidt but had enough on it to find the back of the net.

 It was his third international goal for the All Whites and a crucial strike as it meant the team went to the sheds with a 1-0 lead and confidence after a frustrating opening 45 minutes where they created plenty and only lacked the finishing touch. They were denied twice by the woodwork. 

 At the other end of the pitch, Cesar Zeoula was at the heart of everything New Caledonia did on attack and could have scored on several occasions.

 Both sides had chances but it was New Zealand who found the back of the net again in the second half. Rojas scored two goals in an international for the first time in his career when he finished from close range in the 72nd minute after a back heel from skipper Chris Wood. It put the game to bed and sent the All Whites into a good position ahead of game two.  

 Earlier, the hosts almost got off to a perfect start when Wood delivered a dangerous free kick from around 30 yards out which went flying just over the bar.

 The All Whites created a number of half chances in the opening 20 minutes with Marco Rojas and Kosta Barbarouses at the heart of the endeavour but they could not break down the New Caledonia defence.

 Les Cagous weathered the opening storm and responded in kind on the counter attack. Their best chance of the half came in the 25th minute when Georges Gope-Fenepej cut the ball back for Zeoula, whose shot was blocked by Bill Tuiloma near the six-yard box.

 Wood had another chance to open the scoring from a free kick and he delivered a superb effort which hit the post and bounced out. In the 37th minute, a clever flick on from Wood had Barbarouses in space and he did well to gather and shoot to beat the keeper but again it hit the post and bounced out.

 It felt like it was going to be one of those afternoons for the home side until Rojas never died on the ball and came up with a crucial play.

 Towards the end of the first half Hudson changed his formation, moving from a 3-5-2 system to 4-1-3-2 with Tuiloma pushing forward to take on the role of defensive midfielder.

 New Caledonia never gave up and should have levelled the scores when Zeoula had a free header in front of goal from a Roy Kayara cross but he sent it over the bar. 

 That man Zeoula was in the thick of it again and hammered a shot which fizzed just wide of the New Zealand goal from outside the box in the 59th minute.

 The Rojas second had New Zealand on the front foot and they could have added a third when Monty Patterson headed over the bar and Wood created space in the final 10 minutes but could not finish.

The All Whites travel to New Caledonia tomorrow and will play Les Cagous again for the away leg at Stade Yoshida in Koné on Tuesday night. 


OFC Stage 3 2018 FIFA World Cup RussiaTM Qualifiers

Match Result
New Zealand 2 (Marco Rojas 42’, 72’)
New Caledonia 0
HT: 1-0

New Zealand: 1. Stefan Marinovic (GK), 3. Deklan Wynne,  4. Themi Tzimopoulos, 6. Bill Tuiloma, 7. Kosta Barbarouses (13. Monty Patterson 60’), 9. Chris Wood (c), 11. Marco Rojas, 14. Ryan Thomas (20. Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi 78’), 15. Clayton Lewis (19. Moses Dyer 60’), 21. Liam Graham, 22. Andrew Durante

Subs not used: 2. Henry Cameron, 12. Glen Moss, 16. Louis Fenton, 17. Luke Adams, 23. Tamati Williams (GK)

Upcoming matches

Match Day Two

Group B
Sunday 13 November, 3pm (SBT)
Solomon Islands v Tahiti
Lawson Tama Stadium, Honiara

Group A
Tuesday 15 November, 5pm (NCT)
New Caledonia v New Zealand
Stade Yoshida, Kone

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