The Oly Whites head into Tuesdays match against Tonga looking for momentum and the last remaining spot in the semi-finals of the OFC Mens Olympic Qualifiers.
While New Zealand enjoyed a rest day on Sundays Match day two, Vanuatu, Fiji and Papua New Guinea all claimed the victories they needed to book their passage into the next stage on the Road to London.
Fiji trounced American Samoa 7-1 and Vanuatu edged the Solomon Islands 1-0 to claim the two semi finals places available in Group A and set up an intriguing battle on Tuesday for top spot, while in Group B, Papua New Guinea bounced back from Fridays 0-1 defeat to New Zealand with a 3-0 win over Tonga that sees them into the final four.
Only a two goal defeat to Tonga would prevent the Oly Whites securing a Thursday semi-final against the second placed team from Group A, but coach New Zealand Neil Emblen says adding the finishing touches to what was an otherwise solid opening performance is his focus.
After reviewing our first game we can take a lot of heart with the sheer number of chances we created even though we were still perhaps a bit rusty. Even with ten men we were still creating opportunities, Emblen said.
Weve had a few more days together as a team and those combinations are beginning to click. If we gel like I think we will, and we get the sort of performance we are capable of, then the result will look after itself.
Already without striker Dakota Lucas for this match through suspension, and star midfielder Marco Rojas through injury for the entire tournament, Emblen will rest first choice fullback Ian Hogg who was substituted early in the opening game with a tight hamstring.
OFC Mens Olympic Qualifiers 2012
16-24 March 2012
Owen Delany Park, Taupo, New Zealand
Match Day Three
New Zealand v Tonga
Tuesday 20 March
New Zealand: (from) 1-Jake GLEESON (GK), 2-Tim MYERS, 3-Ian HOGG, 4-Michael EAGER, 5-Anthony HOBBS, 7-Cameron LINDSAY, 8-Ethan GALBRAITH, 9-Greg DRAPER, 10-Sean LOVEMORE, 12-Louis FENTON, 13-Alex FENERIDIS, 14-James MUSA, 15-Jason HICKS, 16-Tristan PRATTLEY, 17-Adam MCGEORGE (captain), 18-Adam THOMAS, 19-Daniel SARIC, 20-Michael O'KEEFFE (GK).
Suspended: 11-Dakota LUCAS.
Coach: Neil EMBLEN
Tonga: (from) 1-Soane FAUPULA (GK), 2-Fineasi PALEI, 4-Christian LIKIO, 5-Oliveti VAI, 6-Malakai SAVIETI, 7-Siosifa MOIMOI, 8-Timote MAAMALOA, 9-Sione LANGI, 10-Matana PAONGO, 11-Kinitoni FALATAU, 12-Siosaia LATUPAUU, 13-Samisoni MAFI, 14-Sevedale LATU, 15-Hemaloto POLOVILI, 16-Misinale LUTU, 17-Joseph KAPANI, 18-Vei TAUFA'AO (GK), 19-Steven LIKIO, 20-Ilaisa LOTAKI, 21-Vaha MAAMALOA.
Coach: Timote MOLENI