New Zealand defeated the Solomon Islands 6-0 in the OFC-U19 championship. Both teams had romped to easy victories in their first two group matches and I wanted to see if the stand-out players from those games could show the same qualities against opposition that was more on their level. Obviously, in the case of New Zealand, the answer was “yes.” The game was relatively even until about the 60th-minute mark when the superior conditioning of the Kiwis allowed them to pour on the goals.
- Nationality: New Zealand
- Age: 18
- Date of Birth: 12/09/2004
- Current Club: Cashmere Technical
- Position: Striker
- Preferred Foot: Right
Kian Donkers started as New Zealand’s centre-forward in this match and continued a run of scoring that can only be described as Haaland-esque. Donkers scored his 7th and 8th goals of the tournament before being substituted in the 60th minute with a hamstring injury. Donkers was an absolute handful for the Solomon Islands.
He is quite tall and, although he is not the most muscular, he is very good at using his big frame to shield the ball. New Zealand was always looking to use his hold-up play as an outlet. His ability to link up with teammates lead directly to New Zealand’s 3rd goal. His first touch and control were very strong relative to the level of play and he also showed some flashes of dribbling skill. He was very quick on the turn which, combined with his height, made him good at posting up on defenders. He demonstrated some good vision when he split open the Solomon Islands’ defence and put Jay Herdman 1v1 against the goalkeeper (a chance that he somehow missed). Donkers was very slippery with his movement, able to get free of defenders despite receiving a lot of defensive attention. In addition to his goals, he had two other really good chances, one that was well saved and one which went just wide. Donkers left the match with an injury shortly after the 60-minute mark with a hamstring injury.
Hopefully, he will be able to return for the knock-out phase of the tournament but even if he can’t, his eight goals in three appearances would seem to be a tournament record. Most years 5 goals are enough to win the golden boot in the OFC U-19 Championship and a golden boot winner hasn’t made it to eight since Roy Krishna all the way back in 2007. Granted, three of Donker’s goals have been penalties but New Zealand has also rotated quite a lot so these goals have come in only a little over 150 minutes of play.
Rating – A1
I think there should be some more buzz around this guy. Donkers now has 18 goals in 13 appearances for club and country this season, averaging a goal every 48 minutes. Now, obviously, the level of competition has been low but he is very young and has been crushing it with ruthless efficiency. His level of skill looks to be quite high relative to his peers and his production compares very favourably to what the region’s greats were doing at a similar age. There are also two other things that make him a very attractive target. Firstly he was born in the Netherlands, and therefore should be eligible for EU citizenship. Secondly, he plays for an amateur status club in New Zealand, and therefore the costs of acquiring him would be minimal. These two factors make it easy to recommend Donkers to just about anybody. For smaller clubs in Europe, he could contribute right away but if you are a bigger club you might as well give him a go in the reserves and see what happens. Clubs in the Americas and Asia would also do well to have a look. The risk around Donkers is very low and, at this point, it’s starting to look like the rewards could be very high indeed.