Vanuatu progress in World Cup qualifiers

September 8, 2007

APIA, Samoa, Sept 7 (Reuters) - New Caledonia claimed gold in the South Pacific Games football tournament on Friday while Vanuatu won a playoff to progress in the World Cup.

Midfielder Jose Hmae netted a rebound just after the hour mark as the French territory beat Fiji 1-0 to claim the gold medal at the Games, which have been used as the first phase of World Cup qualifiers in the Oceania region.

By reaching the gold medal match, New Caledonia and Fiji progressed to the next phase of qualifiers that start in October.

Vanuatu upset the Solomon Islands 2-0 in the bronze medal match to secure the third and final berth in the next round, a group competition which also includes New Zealand.

Seule Soromon netted his 10th goal of the tournament on the stroke of halftime and Francis Skama doubled Vanuatu's lead five minutes after the break.

The Solomon Islands, who had been pre-tournament favourites, also missed a second-half penalty as they crashed out of the 2010 World Cup qualifiers.