World Cup qualifying: Papua New Guinea claim final place in third round
Papua New Guinea, the lowest-ranked non-European side left in World Cup qualifying, booked their place in the third round in Oceania with an 8-0 thrashing of Samoa at the OFC Nations Cup on Sunday.
The second round of qualifying in the Oceania region doubles as the OFC Nations Cup, taking place in Papua New Guinea, with the overall winners going on to take part in next summer's Confederations Cup in Russia.
PNG, who have never before advanced through the group stage of the OFC Nations Cup in three previous appearances and had not won a game at the finals since 1980, won by such a margin that they overtook New Caledonia by one goal to win Group A.
Michael Foster and Raymond Gunemba had given PNG -- ranked 193rd in the world by FIFA -- a modest 2-0 lead by half-time, but the floodgates opened after the break.
Foster added the third goal, while Gunemba went on to complete a hat trick. Nigel Dabinyaba scored twice and Koriak Upaiga was also on target while Samoa had Keone Kapisi sent off three minutes before the break.
Tahiti and New Caldeonia met in the other group game having already booked their passage in World Cup qualifying.
With PNG already having won their game earlier, New Caledonia knew they would have to win to top the group and avoid a semifinal date with New Zealand in the OFC Nations Cup, while holders Tahiti knew nothing other than a victory would put them into the final four.
New Caledonia looked to be going through as group winners when Bertrand Kai put them in front in the 80th minute, but Tahiti found an equaliser through Teaonui Tehau two minutes into added time to earn a 1-1 draw.
New Zealand will play New Caledonia, and PNG take on Solomon Islands, in the semifinals of the OFC Nations Cup on Wednesday.
Fiji and Tahiti join the OFC Nations Cup semifinalists in the third round of World Cup qualifying, which will start next March and feature two three-team groups. The winner of each group meets to decide who goes through to the inter-confederation playoff against the nation that finishes fifth in the South American region.