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New Zealand beat New Caledonia to top Oceania qualifiers

22 Mar 2013 12:16:57

New Zealand beat New Caledonia to top Oceania qualifiers

New Zealand scored a last ditch goal to clinch a 2-1 victory over New Caledonia Friday and top the Oceania World Cup qualifiers for the right to play off for a spot in Brazil next year.

A Tommy Smith goal four minutes into extra time sealed the win after New Caledonia had cancelled out Chris Killen's 10th minute opener for the All Whites with a goal early in the second half.

Oceania, the weakest of the six FIFA confederations, does not have an automatic berth at the 2014 World Cup.

Instead, the top Oceania qualifier faces a two-leg play-off against the fourth-placed Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONACAF) side for a place in Brazil.

With one qualification round left to go, New Zealand have five wins from five matches and are beyond the reach of their rivals, who consist of small Pacific island nations.

Captain Winston Reid said he was relieved to prevail over the committed New Caledonians.

"This was by far our worst game of the competition," he said.

"Obviously we made a couple of chances but on the day they were a little bit better than us, but sometimes you have a little bit of luck in football and we had it tonight."

New Zealand's CONACAF opponents are yet to be determined.


AFP

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