BRISBANE, Australia, Oct 17 (Reuters) - New Zealand secured a 2-0 away win over Fiji in the opening match of the Oceania
region's final qualifying pool for the 2010 World Cup on Wednesday.
The All Whites opened the scoring in the first half with an
Ivan Vicelich strike before sealing victory in Lautoka with a
late individual effort from forward Shane Smeltz.
The match, played on a bumpy surface at Churchill Park
doubled as a qualifier for the Confederations Cup.
As expected, the home side started with their first-choice
keeper Simione Tamanisau, the player denied a visa by the New
Zealand government under sanctions introduced following last
December's coup in Fiji.
Tamanisau's absence from the squad when they arrived in
Auckland last week led to world governing body FIFA postponing
what was to have been the opening match at North Harbour
Stadium on Saturday.
His visa was denied after Wellington said the player's
father-in-law was in Fiji's military forces.
New Zealand's next two qualifying matches are against
Vanuatu, in Port Vila on Nov. 17 and in Wellington four days
New Caledonia are the other nation in the four-team group,
with the winner advancing to a playoff against Asia's
fifth-ranked qualifier for a place at the 2010 finals in South
The postponed encounter with Fiji is expected to be staged
at a neutral venue next year.