Football: All Whites coach Danny Hay laments missed opportunities in highly physical clash with Tahiti

The All Whites may have walked away with victory, but coach Danny Hay was left to rue yet another slew of squandered goal-scoring opportunities in their 1-0 win over Tahiti in their Oceania World Cup qualifying semi-final at Doha on Monday.

In the 70th minute, Liberato Cacace struck the decisive goal, after his team had failed to convert several golden chances earlier to put a contest they'd dominated both territory and possession to bed.

Earlier, Matthew Garbett had mistimed a header with the goal awaiting him, Bill Tuiloma's shot was cleared off the line, as the Tahitian goalkeeper was forced to work overtime to keep his sheet clean, until Cacace finally found the net.

With two crucial games in the final against the Solomon Islands and their playoff against the intercontinental qualifier to come, Hay says his team need to be much more ruthless in front of goal if they're to secure a spot at the World Cup finals, which has been a trend throughout this tournament for the Kiwis.

"We could have been more clinical," Hay admits. 

"Again, we had a number of opportunities, particularly at the back end of the first half and then a number in the first half.

"We put ourselves under pressure by not being clinical."

On the other side of the ball, the Tahitians failed to create the faintest of opportunities - the NZ goal never seeming under genuine threat.

Instead, they resorted to a highly physical brand of play Hay suggests tip-toed the line crossing into foul play.

"There were a few robust ones going in, that's for sure," he says.

"As a coach, when you see some of that going on it's hard to sort of swallow at times.

"It was a tough game. They were very, very physical. Probably the most physical encounter we've ever been a part of."

Hay expects a more nuanced approach from their opponents in Thursday's final against the Solomon Islands, who advanced with a 3-2 semi-final win over Papua New Guinea.

"They're a completely different side than what we've faced," he notes. 

"They're technically very good. A lot of futsal style players - skillful dribblers, extremely quick, they get huge numbers on the counter attack.

"They're going to pose a real threat, there's no doubt about it - but it's going to be a different game of football."

The All Whites seem likely to be bolstered by the return of key midfielder Marko Stamenic, who sat out Monday's semi-final in the hope of being ready for the tournament showpiece.