PAPEETE – New Caledonia scored three goals inside five minutes on the way to a comfortable 4-0 win over Oceania champion Tahiti in Papeete Tuesday in the third round of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.
The loss for Tahiti, which will represent the region at next year’s Confederations Cup in Brazil, severely dampened any hopes it may have had of returning to South America for the World Cup Finals.
New Zealand, which was humbled in the semifinals of the Oceania Nations Cup in June and missed out on a big payday from the Confederations Cup, leads the group on a maximum of six points after they beat the Solomon Islands 6-1 in Auckland.
Tahiti was without captain Nicolas Vallar.
This final stage of qualifying in the Oceania region consists of a single pool of the four teams, all playing each other home and away.
The winner of the pool advances to face the fourth-placed team from the Central and North American confederation (CONCACAF) in a two-legged playoff for a spot in Brazil.
The third round of matches is on Oct. 12 with Tahiti hosting New Zealand in Papeete and the Solomon Islands playing New Caledonia in Honiara. — AP