The All Whites booked themselves a place in next years Confederations Cup Finals, but more importantly they pushed the games profile up in New Zealand up another notch following on from the huge interest generated during the 2002 FIFA World Cup last month in Korea/Japan.
Ryan Nelsens 78 minute goal from a wonderfully taken free kick by Simon Elliot won the match for the All Whites. Australias Socceroos had dominated the first half with midfielder Scott Chipperfield in superb attacking form. Possibly one of the games defining points was Jason Battys brilliant save after the Socceroos had broken through. Joel Porters shot from almost point blank range could have given the Socceroos the decisive lead but instead the All Whites grew another leg in confidence.
In the second half, the All Whites slowly absorbed the sustained Socceroos pressure. And as Socceroos coach Frank Farina had feared, the All Whites proved lethal from the set-pieces. Nelsens goal moved Farina to make three desperate changes but the late rally failed to produce the equalizer. There was to be no repeat of their semi-final come from behind win against Tahiti. Not even four minutes added stoppage time was enough and with the final whistle, the crowd of close to 4,000 let out a resounding roar of celebration.
Afterwards, the two coaches were a contrast in expressions. Farinas sullen look reflected the significance of the loss to Australia. He alluded to the result being a product of the shoddy buildup the team had experienced which resulted in only one of their overseas based players being available. Waitt could not find the words but the smile said it all. He applauded the character of the players to turn around a mediocre first half and score the decisive goal.
All Whites Midfielder Mark Burton was later named the Epson Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award. Epson NZ General Manager, Mr Greg Skinner, made the presentation before the final press conference. The OFC Nations Cup was presented to the All Whites by Oceania Football Confederation president, Basil Scarsella.
78 min - # 14 Ryan Nelsen
73 min - # 10 Bobby Despotovski for # 8 Joel Porter
82 min - # 12 Tom Pondeljak for # 3 Jade North
82 min - # 7 Robert Middleby for # 2 Fausto De Amicis
57 min - # 19 James Bannatyne for # 1 Jason Batty
19 min - # 15 Ivan Vicelich (New Zealand)
37 min - # 11 Scott Chipperfield (Australia)
40 min - # 10 Chris Jackson (New Zealand)
63 min - # 4 Chris Zoricich (New Zealand)
69 min - # 2 Fausto De Amcicis (Australia)
81 min - # 8 Aaron Lines (New Zealand)
Australia: 1. Jason Petkovic 2. Fausto De Amicis 3. Jade North 4. Mehmed Durakovic 5. Steve Horvat 6. Patrick Kisnorbo 8. Joel Porter 9. Damian Mori 11. Scott Chipperfield 14. Angelo Costanzo 17. Ante Juric
BENCH: 7. Robert Middleby 10. Bobby Depotovoski 12. Tom Pondeljak 13. Milan Blagojevic 15. Ante Milicic 16. Paul Trimboli 18. Dean Anastasiadis
Coach: F. Farina
New Zealand: 1. Jason Batty 2. Duncan Oughton 4. Chris Zoricich 7. Mark Burton 8. Aaron Lines 10. Chris Jackson 11. Chris Killen 12. Simon Elliot 14. Ryan Nelsen 15. Ivan Vicelich 20. Gerard Davies
BENCH: 3. Lee Jones 5. Jonathan Perry 6. Raf De Gregorio 9. Paul Urlovic 13. Christian Bouckenooghe 16. Glen Collins 17. Jeff Campbell 18. Scott Smith 19. James Bannatyne