Papua New Guinea are the first team through to the OFC Women’s Nations Cup football semi finals after crushing New Caledonia 6-2 in Kone last night.
The hosts had a handful of early opportunities but it was PNG’s Marie Kaipu who opened the scoring in the 20th minute.
She finished the match with a stunning five goals to her name and even provided the cross to assist Ramona Padio for the Lakatois’ other goal.
Victory assured PNG of a semi final berth while a healthy goal difference of +9 means they will probably finish atop Group A even if they lose their next match.
“I love my defence, they did some really great defending today against a really good team. Then also we had our super girl with us today,” said PNG head coach Peter Gumba.
Having also suffered defeat to Papua New Guinea in the 2011 and 2015 Pacific Games grand finals, another loss was a tough pill to swallow for New Caledonia coach Kamali Fitialeata.
“It was kind of a bizarre match. With every shot almost, they would score. We made mistakes especially out wide but they were also incredibly good as an opponent,” he said.
“Everything worked for them today, and they seemed to show a greater desire than us to win and that is reflected in the final score.”
In the earlier Group A clash, Tahiti and Samoa could not be separated in a ten goal thriller which kept both team’s faint playoff hopes alive.
15 year old striker Sina Sataraka gave Samoa the lead within the first 15 seconds only for Carole Teotahi to respond for Tahiti two minutes later.
An own goal from Hanihei Taumaa restored Samoa’s lead within 60 seconds before a blistering finish from Teotahi levelled the scores for a second time.
Hanihei Taumaa atoned for her earlier defensive error to put Tahiti 3-2 up after only ten minutes, only for Hana Malo to respond with a thundering free kick to make it 3-3 with less than a quarter of the match completed.
Ninauea Hioe scored in first-half stoppage time to give the French Territory a 4-3 advantage at the interval before Carole Teotahi completed her hat-trick five minutes after half-time to open up a commanding two goal buffer.
However Sina Sataraka struck twice in ten minutes, including an 89th minute equaliser, to complete her hat-trick and salvage a dramatic draw.
Samoa coach Nicola Demine was impressed with the united performance from her players.
“It’s always better to be the one who equalises, and then to come back from two goals down to equalise when you haven’t scored a goal together as team is pretty good,” she said.
However, Tahiti coach Stephanie Spielmann said, despite a strong comeback, there was plenty of room for improvement.
“I wasn’t so happy with the performance. Of course, we can make mistakes with our technique, with certain things but what I don’t want is to be lacking in spirit on the field,” she said.
“We have to fight from the beginning to the end, we have to be warriors, and we have to defend our country. I’m still waiting for the while group to understand this,” she said.
“The result isn’t so ideal, we lost our first match and we haven’t taken enough points from this one. There’s one last match and I hope we can find what we’re missing before then.”
Crunch time in Noumea
Fiji coach Marika Rodu says it is all or nothing for his team against Tonga in today’s second round match if they’re to have a realistic chance of reaching the semi finals.
The OFC Women’s Nations Cup Qualifier winners opened with a 3-0 victory over the Cook Islands on Monday but, with defending champions New Zealand looming in their final group match, Rodu said they will need to get all three points this afternoon in Noumea if they’re to create history and reach the knockout rounds for the first time.
“I think we have one shot to qualify into the semi-final against Tonga, we will not take the game lightly, we would like to see that we make it into the semi-finals after Thursday’s game”, he said.
“Tonga is a tough nut to crack they were more defensive on Monday but we don’t know what they will bring in terms of attack. They can surprise us but we want to anticipate when we come into the game on Thursday.”
Tonga were outclassed 11-0 in their opening match against the Football Ferns but coach Christian Koaneti said the Kingdom are still targeting a spot in the knockout rounds.
“We still have hopes for the second leg of the tournament with two matches left and the opening defeat is something for us to build on for the Fiji game,” he said.
“We already played them in last year’s Pacific Mini Games so we expected Fiji to come on strong since they won the preliminary stage.
“The Fiji match is probably the most important game for us if we are to continue with our goal to get through the second leg of the tournament.”
Meanwhile New Zealand are expected to make it two wins from two in Group B when they take on the Cook Islands in the later match at Stade Numa Daly.
Coach Tom Sermanni said his side will approach the game in similar fashion to their opening with against Tonga.
“We need to go be fully focused, be well prepared and know that we going to be in for a team that’s going to be fully committed for 90 minutes playing against us,” he said.
“It’s not so much a big win, what’s important is to win games. If we can win tomorrow that actually puts us in the semi-final and that takes the pressure off before the third game.”
Cook Islands coach Tuka Tisam said the Football Ferns always presents a difficult task.
“Ahead the game against New Zealand it is going to be really tough against they are a really strong team so it will be hard to get the three points”, he said.
“But we are looking forward to the game and the girls pretty much just need to do the best they can.”
(Source:Radio New Zealand)