Congratulations to Miya, the WPSS players and everyone involved in the NZ U20 Mens national team set up on qualifying for the FIFA U20 World Cup 2019 in Poland.
Earlier in the week a hat trick from WPSS striker and captain for the day Max Mata saw NZ clinch top spot in the group after a 4 nil win over Papua New Guinea.
That win set up a semi final show down with New Caledonia in a match that would see the victor book their ticket to Poland.
With such a big prize at stake the young Kiwi’s had to overcome a stern challenge and come back from a 1 goal half time deficit, scoring 2 goals in the second half to prevail 2 – 1.
Mata struck the equaliser 10 minutes into the second half before Wellington Phoenix Academy player Willem Ebbinge hit the winner in the 76th minute.
Goal scorer Mata was delighted to be returning to the big time after previously starring at the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
“We spoke about trying to be professional and that’s something we always talk about every time we come to the islands. It’s a very tough place to come and professionalism is a big part of success,” he said.
“I think we showed both professionalism and resilience and those were two things we promised ourselves we’d do. We tried to keep a cool head and manage the game properly. We had a good feeling inside that we would score and we did,” he added.
“I’ve qualified for a World Cup before and it was the best feeling of my life and now I’ve got that feeling again. So I’m lucky I’ve had a once-in-a-lifetime feeling twice in my life.”
New Zealand will face Tahiti, who defeated Solomon Islands 3-1 in the other semi-final, in the final of the OFC U-19 Championship on Sunday 19 August at 4pm (NZ time) with live streaming available via www.oceaniafootball.com