Hekari make history with heroic second leg performance.Hekari United have made history, becoming the first team outside of Australia and New Zealand to qualify for the FIFA Club World Cup by winning the Oceania Football Confederation Champions League 4-2 on aggregate against Waitakere United.
The New Guineans lost the second leg 2-1 in New Zealand but it was more than enough to take them through after a 3-0 win in the first leg.
They will now go on to compete against the best clubs in world football in the UAE this year, an unprecedented accomplishment given the dominance of the competition by Australian and New Zealand clubs in the past.
Things were looking ominous for the underdogs three minutes into the match when veteran defender Neil Emblen opened the scoring with a header for Waitakere.
With 32 minutes gone though the visitors all but assured themselves a place at the Club World Cup when Kema Jack converted a penalty won by Alick Maemae.
The visitors had to withstand something of a barrage during the second half, clearing a succession of corners as the home side mounted pressure, Emblen hitting the bar with a header on 55 minutes before Jake Butler saw his shot cleared off the line only two minutes later.
Hekari weren't without their own attacking threat throughout the contest however and went some way to proving their first leg victory was no fluke; they might have walked away with another win had Kema Jack's header not bounced over the woodwork on 78 minutes.
With 84 minutes gone and still needing three goals to complete an unlikely turn-around, Waitakere won themselves a penalty when Dakota Lucas was broughd down inside the box, Brent Fisher converting.
It was too little, too late though as Hekari held on to make history: they will now receive a minimum of US$500,000 for competing at the Club World Cup, a huge boost for the nation's football as they dedicated their victory to all Pacific Island countries within the region.