New Zealand begin quest to qualify for Fifa U-17 World Cup with big win over Samoa
The New Zealand under-17 football team have begun their Oceania championship campaign in style, beating Samoa 11-0 in Tahiti on Monday.
It was not the largest win they've ever had - that's still the 13-0 thumping of Tonga in 2005 - but it was an improvement on their result against the same opposition two years ago, when a late mistake meant they only won 9-1.
Six different players got on the scoresheet at Stade Pater in Papeete, starting with Phoenix academy member Willem Ebbinge, who had a brace inside 10 minutes.
Charles Spragg then joined the action, finishing off a Matthew Palmer cross in the 20th minute, and Kingsley Sinclair added another just a minute later, while Spragg notched his second five minutes before the break.
Such was New Zealand's dominance, keeper Dylan Bennett received his first touch just a minute before halftime.
After play resumed, the Kiwis had their longest scoreless stretch of the match, kept at bay until the 67th minute, when Palmer turned from provider to finisher, looping a header over Eti Fetu in Samoa's goal. He then added a second just three minutes later.
The other four goals all came inside the final 10 minutes.
Oliver Whyte, a substitute, made it 8-0 in the 86th, then Max Mata finally got on the board in the 88th, before Palmer and Spragg both completed their hat-tricks in stoppage time.
Their will be harder tests ahead for New Zealand, with Samoa one of Oceania's weakest footballing nations, though they will now have plenty of confidence to take forward.
Tahiti and New Caledonia both began their campaigns in Group A with wins on Sunday, over Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea respectively, while the other opening game in Group B finished all square, as Fiji and the Solomon Islands drew 1-1.
The top two teams in each group advance to the semifinals, with both finalists qualifying for the World Cup in India later this year.
New Zealand's next match is on Thursday, against the Solomon Islands.
AT A GLANCE
Oceania Under-17 Championship
Group B, Rd 1
Samoa 0 lost to New Zealand 11 (Palmer 3, Spragg 3, Ebbinge 2, Sinclair, Whyte, Mata)