All Whites draw 1-1 with Solomon Islands

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

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.

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