Soccer: Rojas ruled out for Oly Whites

Melbourne Victory midfielder Marco Rojas will miss NZ's Olympic qualifying campaign after suffering a broken jaw. Photo / Getty Images.
Melbourne Victory midfielder Marco Rojas will miss NZ's Olympic qualifying campaign after suffering a broken jaw. Photo / Getty Images.

Marco Rojas has been ruled out of the New Zealand's Olympic qualifying campaign after fracturing his jaw while on club duty for Melbourne Victory on Friday night.

The midfielder suffered a heavy knock to the head in a clash with Wellington Phoenix player Manny Muscat early on, leaving the field for treatment wand heading to hospital for assessment.

Examinations subsequently confirmed the bad news for New Zealand U-23 coach Neil Emblen.

"Marco was in hospital all last night and it looks like he's got a fractured jaw," Emblen said.

"We were in contact with the Melbourne Victory doctor and it sounds like there's definitely a fracture there and some mild concussion so it's very likely that he's going to be unavailable.

"It's unfortunate for everyone because now the lad has missed out and we've missed out and the Phoenix lost as well so it wasn't a good night. He's an important part of our squad so it's sad that we've not been able to bring him in, and we're gutted for Marco as we know how much he was looking forward to helping us reach the Olympics."

Under tournament rules, a replacement player may not be called in.

New Zealand began the tournament with a 1-0 win over Papua New Guinea and after a bye on Sunday they resume pool play on Tuesday against Tonga.

The top two in each pool progress to semi finals on Thursday, with the winner of Saturday's final claiming Oceania's sole spot in the London Olympics.

The men's Olympic Football Tournament is a U-23 competition although three over-age players are allowed per squad for the finals in London.

- HERALD ONLINE

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