OFC 1990 Qualification

Preview

The Oceania confederation only had three entries for the Italia ’90 qualification, though in addition to Fiji, Australia and New Zealand, there were also non-OFC members Israel (just like in the qualification for Mexico ’86) and Chinese Taipei (Taiwan). This meant that five nations would compete for a place in the intercontinental play-offs between OFC and CONMEBOL (its Group 2 winners), where the victorious team ultimately would qualify for the World Cup.  The OFC qualification had a first and a second round. The first saw two-legged affairs where both winners would go on through to the second round along with Israel, who had received a first round bye. The three teams in round two would play each other on a home and away basis, according to round-robin principles. 

First round

(Twitter thread for the four first round matches combined)

1st leg
26.11.1988
Prince Charles Park, Nadi

Fiji
Madigi (66)

1–0
(Report)

Australia

The plucky Fiji team executed a sensational win against the region’s big nation. Perhaps had Australia not arrived in the best of shape, and perhaps had they even under-estimated the quality of the opposition. The only goal of the game came midway through the second half through substitute Madigi. Fiji had stuck to a very physical approach which had had some opposing players intimidated.

2nd leg
03.12.1988
Macquarie Fields, Speers Point

Australia
Yankos (9, 69 p)
Spink (25)
Arnold (84)
Trimboli (87)

5–1
(Report)

Fiji
Delai (90)

Australia turned the tie around with relative ease, as they completed a 5-1 rout to which captain Charlie Yankos had set them on their way with an early 30 yard wonder strike. Fiji’s often physical approach didn’t quite come off this time around, and they even ashamed themselves a minute from time in a brawl which saw their substitute Watisoni sent off, and which left Yankos with a bloody nose. Expected progress in the end for the Socceroos. 

1st leg
11.12.1988
Newtown Park, Wellington

Chinese Taipei

0–4
(Report)

New Zealand
Wright (36)
McClennan (45)
Barkley (57)
Halligan (76)

In Chinese Taipei’s ‘home game’, they had managed to tame the opposition, which had taken some time to gel in the first match back for returning supremo Adshead. Victory by such a handsome margin turned the second leg into a comfortable affair for the All Whites.

2nd leg
15.12.1988
Western Springs, Auckland

New Zealand
Wright (15)
McClennan (25, 40, 49)

4–1
(Report)

Chinese Taipei
Lund o.g. (55)

A Darren McClennan hat-trick almost stole the headlines from Wynton Rufer’s return to national team action. New Zealand proceeded safely through to the group stage phase with an 8-1 aggregate win. 

Second round (group stage)

Match 1
05.03.1989
Ramat Gan National Stadium, Tel Aviv

Israel
Rosenthal (7)

1–0
(Report)

New Zealand

Israel get their World Cup qualification campaign off to winning ways thanks to an early strike from Belgium based forward Rosenthal. italia1990.com do not possess much in terms of footage nor information about this game, and the scant video material available shows the Israeli hosts put some pressure on their visitors. Other than Rosenthal’s goal, there’s also a close range Ohana header which is superbly beaten away by New Zealand ‘keeper Gosling. 

Match 2
12.03.1989
Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney
Australia 4-1 New Zealand
After a slow start, Australia move in front on the quarter of an hour, but despite being easily the better side, they failed to add to their tally until just before the break, when the visitors had lost their fine box to box midfielder Halligan to injury. Crino and Petersen controlled the centre of the park, and Arnold was such a handful up top. The Australian striker should’ve bagged more than the brace which he got. Defender Dunford headed a consolation, only for Yankos to strike home a penalty after Ollerenshaw had rounded Gosling only to be tripped. Emphatic win, but New Zealand were woeful.

Match 3
19.03.1989
Ramat Gan National Stadium, Tel Aviv
Israel 1-1 Australia
Israel change their formation around from their opening fixture against New Zealand, reinforcing their defence in order to counter the attacking threat of returning Australia strikers Farina and Krnčević. Iluz comes into the team at forward Driks’ expense. As a result, they relinquish the initiative, and see the visitors shade the opening 45 minutes, which is a tense, physical battle in a packed stadium. There’s preciously few openings either way, and it takes a penalty midway through the second half, which is largely dominated by the hosts, to open the scoring (Ohana). A long range free-kick expertly drilled home by skipper Yankos restores parity, and despite a late red-card offence by visiting defender Šavor, the hosts can not capitalize. 

Match 4
02.04.1989
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
New Zealand 2-0 Australia
In the return leg between the two leading Oceania nations, hosts New Zealand have made no less than five changes to their starting eleven in comparison to the team which had taken to the field for their inept Sydney defeat. The Australians, meanwhile, were again without the services of their Belgium based forward pair, and so both Spink and Ollerenshaw had been brought back into their starting eleven. In severe gales, the visitors predominantly looked flat against an inspired host team, which had some big performers right through their core, and while Lund won plenty of central defensive headers, Ironside added steel to their midfield in a lung-bursting performance. Dunford collected his second goal of the series, and Australia were made to look a million miles away from the team which had won so comfortably at home. Wright capped it off with a terrific second late on when he bent one into the top right corner. 

Match 5
09.04.1989
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
New Zealand 2-2 Israel

Match 6
16.04.1989
Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney
Australia 1-1 Israel

Final table

PosTeamPlWDLGFGAPts
1Israel4130545
2Australia4121654
3New Zealand4112573

Conclusion

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Statistics

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Goalscorers