Fans and finalists at the FIWC12 Oceania live event final, held in Auckland on 21 April, witnessed a bit of virtual football history when Reece Lambert crossed over from being a FIFA U-17 World Cup player to claiming a place at a very different FIFA tournament – the FIFA Interactive World Cup 2012 Grand Final.
Lambert will take his place amongst the world’s elite virtual footballers in Dubai next month for what promises to be an exceptional Grand Final. Reece is no stranger to playing football for a world title. The young defender represented New Zealand at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Mexico 2011, starting every match and helping his team make it to the Round of 16.
The youngster wasn’t the only football star at the Grand Final. New Zealand Internationals and Auckland City teammates David Mulligan and Ivan Vicelich attended the live event as special guests and took the opportunity to wish the participants good luck.
Five pre-qualifiers took place across Oceania from February to April to find the region’s best EA SPORTS™ FIFA 12 players. Winners from tournaments in New Caledonia, Papau New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tahiti were joined by finalists from New Zealand for a final EA SPORTS™ FIFA 12 showdown in Auckland on 21 April. The winner would be crowned Oceania champion and represent his country at the FIFA Interactive World Cup 2012 Grand Final in Dubai from 21-23 May 2012.
Five goal final
Reece Lambert and Steven Fox made it to the Oceania finale and both were set on winning it all. The final match was a pretty even contest, Lambert opting for Manchester City while his opponent chose Real Madrid. At the 84th minute the scores were locked at 2-2 and extra-time seemed inevitable. Then suddenly, Lambert, took a final shot with Mario Balotelli and scored the match winning goal!
"I never thought I'd win today...I'm just so happy”, the overjoyed winner said. Standing between Reece and the virtual world title are twenty three of the best FIFA 12 players on the planet. "I've played online in the past and lost 4-3 to the world's number six but in Dubai it will be a whole different level. It's going to be an amazing experience to play against the best in the world.”
The Oceania tournament was a great experience for all the finalists. “Not many people back home get the chance to travel to New Zealand and it feels good to come out here and represent my country.” Said Julian Kasu from New Guinea, gracious in defeat.
For Oceania champion Reece Lambert, who will soon be moving to the USA to study at University, EA SPORTS™ FIFA 12 is as much fun as it is tactical. "I play FIFA 12 before every real game, it just helps me to get into that mode," he said.