Minnows PNG face New Zealand in OFC Nations final

Sydney (AFP) – Papua New Guinea will play in their first Oceania Football Confederation Nations Cup final in 43 years against a backdrop of civil unrest when the hosts face regional power New Zealand in Port Moresby on Saturday. 

The impoverished Pacific nation recorded a 2-1 semi-final win over the Solomon Islands on Wednesday, the same day police opened fire on students preparing to rally against Prime Minister Peter O’Neill in the capital Port Moresby.

Four-time regional champions New Zealand squeezed past New Caledonia 1-0 in their semi-final. 

“It’s fantastic for PNG football and for the country. I’m so proud of those boys for how hard they’ve worked since the beginning of April,” PNG coach Flemming Serritslev told reporters.

“Now they actually get their reward and they really deserve it.”

PNG reached the semi-finals after drawing with 2012 champions Tahiti and New Caledonia and hammering Samoa 8-0 during the group stage. 

New Zealand are, though, favourites to claim the title after progressing from their group with a 100 percent record after beating Fiji, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands.

New Zealand won the OFC Nations Cup in 1973, 1998, 2002 and 2008, with two of those victories coming against Australia, who moved to the Asian Football Confederation in 2006.

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