New Zealand clinched the top spot in the Oceania qualifying table Friday, topping New Caledonia 2-1 and cementing a place in a two-legged intercontinental playoff against CONCACAF's fourth-place team in November. Tommy Smith's stoppage-time winner delivered the three points, maintaining New Zealand's perfect mark through five games.
With a six-point edge and just one game remaining in the qualifying round, the All Whites have taken care of business ahead of the finale against Solomon Islands and will earn the right to play for a place in the World Cup for the third time in the nation's history. They did not lose in the 2010 World Cup, going 0-0-3 after draws with Slovakia, Italy and Paraguay, but they failed to qualify for the knockout stage.
CONCACAF is granted three automatic bids to the World Cup, while the fourth-place finisher has to play an intercontinental playoff in order to qualify. During the last qualifying cycle, CONCACAF was paired with CONMEBOL, and Costa Rica fell to Uruguay in its attempt to reach the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.