All Whites draw 1-1 with Solomon Islands

08:02, Jun 06 2012
Ben Sigmund
All Whites defender Ben Sigmund heads the ball in front of Fiji's Roy Krishna.
Tommy Smith
Tommy Smith (centre) celebrates his first international goal with Shane Smeltz, Chris Killen and Kosta Barbarouses.
Tommy Smith
The All Whites chug down the drinks during a scheduled drinks break.
Shane Smeltz
Shane Smeltz attempts to dispossess Fiji's Samuela Vula.
Shane Smeltz
All Whites striker Shane Smeltz takes an awkward shot at goal.
Mark Paston
All Whites goalkeeper Mark Paston receives treatment after getting a knee to the head.
All Whites
The All Whites thank their Solomon Islands hosts ahead of their opening match.
Kosta Barbarouses
Kosta Barbarouses chests down a ball against Papua New Guinea.
Tim Payne
New Zealand's Tim Payne challenges Papua New Guinea's David Muta.
Jake Gleeson
All Whites goalkeeper Jake Gleeson chats with assistant coach Neil Emblen.
All Whites
The All Whites line up for the national anthems in Honiara.
Shane Smeltz and Chris Wood
Chris Wood (right) celebrates his goal against Papua New Guinea with Shane Smeltz.
Ivan Vicelich
All Whites central defender Ivan Vicelich heads the ball away from danger.
Tommy Smith
All Whites captain Tommy Smith goes up for a header against Nelson Sale Kilifa of the Solomon Islands.
Tim Payne
Midfielder Tim Payne sliders in to make a tackle on Jeffery Bule of the Solomons.
Chris Wood
Chris Wood's 14th minute goal from a volley put New Zealand up 1-0.
Tim Payne, Chris Wood and Shane Smeltz
Chris Wood (centre) is congratulated on his goal against the Solomon Islands. by Tim Payne (left) and Shane Smeltz.
Shane Smeltz
All Whites forward Shane Smeltz goes up to head the ball in front of two New Caledonia players during the semifinal loss at the Oceania Nations Cup.
Chris Wood
All Whites striker Chris Wood heads the ball down during the semifinal.
Ivan Vicelich
Ivan Vicelich gets his head in to clear away a New Caledonia cross.
New Caledonia celebrate
New Caledonia players celebrate Bertrand Kai's goal in the 2-0 victory over Ben Sigmund and the All Whites.
Ivan Vicelich
A dejected Ivan Vicelich after the final whistle.
Ivan Vicelich and Chris Killen
All Whites veterans Ivan Vicelich and Chris Killen have no answers for New Caledonia.
Chris Wood
The disappointment is evident on the face of striker Chris Wood.

The All Whites have drawn 1-1 with the Solomon Islands in their final Oceania Nations Cup match today in Honiara but still top their group ahead of the semifinals.

As Group B winners they will face New Caledonia in the semifinals on Friday.

Chris Wood put the All Whites up 1-0 in the 14th minute, while Benjamin Totori equalised by for the home side in the 57th minute in a match with few clear-cut scoring opportunities.

The All Whites, who rested several key players, had the better of the first half and were rewarded with the lead when Wood finished on the turn after Leo Bertos picked him out with a cross from the right.

The Solomon Islands, spurred on by a vocal home crowd in Honiara, came out firing after the break and began to exert pressure on the All Whites.

Totori, who plays for Waitakere City in New Zealand, looked the likeliest and he sent the home crowd into raptures with a brilliant individual goal to draw the Solomon Islands level.

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He went close to snatching a winner for his side in added time but his shot flashed just wide.

New Zealand, entered the last Group B match unbeaten and with its semifinals place already secured.

So All Whites coach Ricki Herbert rang the changes to his line up, handing an opportunity to a host of younger players, seven off them with less than a 10 caps to their name so far.

Ivan Vicelich, Mike McGlinchey, Chris Killen, Shane Smeltz and Ben Sigmund were left off the team sheet altogether and the suspended Tony Lochhead is another senior player who will be refreshed for Friday.

"We exposed a whole new team to arguably the toughest team in the tournament," said Herbert.

"It was great for them to get that level of exposure and at times it was really tough for them."

"We rested a whole lot of players today and there's a lot of tired young ones going away today with a good reflection on international football. It's not easy coming to the islands but they've done us proud and retained that top spot."

The Solomon Islands faced uncertainty at the start of the final day of pool play but were able to relax when Fiji was held to a 1-1 draw by Papua New Guinea.

Fiji needed to win to have any chance of displacing the host nation in the final four.

The winner of the OFC Nations Cup qualifies for the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup while the four semifinalists all progress to stage three of 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying a round robin played in September, October and March.

Fairfax Media