Stage 3 battles set to commence

The road to Brazil 2014 begins again on Friday with Solomon Islands hosting Oceania champions Tahiti in Honiara and New Zealand travelling to Noumea to take on New Caledonia in a repeat of the OFC Nations Cup semi-finals.


Solomon Islands striker Benjamin Totori hopes to be celebrating
once more on Friday. Photo: OFC via Phototek

The second round of matches will take place just a few days later on Tuesday 11 September.

Here’s a look at the action that’s in store across the two matches on the opening day.

Solomon Islands vs. Tahiti – 3pm Friday 7 September

Having pipped the Bonitos 1-0 in their own backyard in the Nations Cup semi-finals just a couple of months ago, Tahiti will travel with confidence knowing they are capable of winning at the home of their rivals. The 20 goals scored by the Toa Aito at that tournament suggest they possess a potent strike force and, with 10 of those strikes coming from three members of the Tehau family - brothers Jonathan and Alvin plus cousin Teaonui - much of the goalscoring burden will again be placed on their shoulders, especially as fellow family member Lorenzo, who added a further five, is suspended for this match. In stark contrast, the Bonitos managed just five between them but have sufficient firepower in Benjamin Totori, who averages almost a goal a game at this level. He will look to experienced captain and playmaker Henry Fa’arodo to provide him with the sort of goalscoring opportunities that helped earn a move to A-League club the Wellington Phoenix. The game’s key figure could, however, be Tahiti skipper Nicolas Vallar, who picked up the Golden Ball for best player at the Nations Cup and will be tasked with keeping danger man Totori in check. Vallar’s performance will be even more important to the Tahiti cause than usual as tough-tackling fullback Angelo Tchen joins Lorenzo Tehau in sitting this one out. The loss of the suspended pair will be offset somewhat by the presence of Marama Vahirua, a prodigiously talented striker with over 320 appearances in France’s top-flight under his belt. The 32-year-old former French U-21 international did not take part in the Nations Cup and, until now, has been denied the chance to star for his country due to his club commitments.

In their own words

“Getting a win against Tahiti for the overall picture is the primary goal but, at the same time, beating them will help dispel some tough memories from the past. I wouldn't call it revenge but I know the whole team wants to be on the right side of the scoreline. We are all looking forward to the game and to doing our best.” – Solomon Islands captain Henry Fa’arodo

“The first two games will be very important as a good start will give you a foundation to build on for the rest of the tournament. We gave the players a month of rest after the Nations Cup, although they still had to follow a training programme. We still have the same philosophy which is based on working well as a team. Humility and hard work are our principles.” – Tahiti coach Eddy Etaeta

New Caledonia vs. New Zealand – 6pm Friday 7 September

Redemption will be the mindset the All Whites take with them to Noumea as they prepare for a Nations Cup rematch with semi-final conquerers New Caledonia. On that day, Les Cagous were more clinical in front of goal and embarrassed Oceania’s top-ranked side 2-0, with the vital strikes coming via the electric pair of Bertrand Kai and Troyes winger Georges Gope-Fenepej. All Whites coach Ricki Herbert was without his full contingent of England-based stars at that tournament and will look to returning skipper Ryan Nelsen and fellow Premier League player Winston Reid to nullify the threat posed by Kai, Gope-Fenepej and Nations Cup Golden Boot Jacques Haeko. At the other end, he will be hoping Shane Smeltz can reproduce the form that has seen him become one of the finest goal-getters ever produced in Oceania. Having received much criticism for their disappointing performances at the Nations Cup, it’s likely another loss to Pacific Island opposition will not be tolerated by the New Zealand public but the All Whites will need to perform well if they are to beat their francophone rivals, who are on the rise following their 2011 Pacific Games triumph and runners-up Nations Cup placing. Les Cagous will pin their hopes on the distribution of captain Olivier Dokunengo being able to provide the ammunition for their lightning attack while looking to an expectant home crowd to get them over the line as both sides eye a winning start. New Zealand are at full strength but the hosts are without suspended duo Judikael Ixoee and Marius Bako.

In their own words

“We put in a great performance against them at the Nations Cup and that was a big achievement but we are still the underdogs when we face a side like New Zealand. The players are all very focused on the qualifiers and know how important these matches are.” – New Caledonia coach Alain Moizan

“There are no easy games in international football, we’ve proved that in recent years and also had a timely reminder of it in Honiara. We need to be ruthless at home and clinical away during this campaign if we are serious about reaching a consecutive World Cup. A winning start is vital as we don’t want to open the door for anyone else to build momentum.” – New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert

Match Details

Solomon Islands vs. Tahiti
3pm local time, Friday 7 September
Lawson Tama Stadium
Honiara, Solomon Islands

Referee: Jamie CROSS [NZL]
Assistant Referee 1: Jan-Hendrik HINTZ [NZL]
Assistant Referee 2: Ravinesh KUMAR [FIJ]
4th Official: John KORIS [PNG]

Solomon Islands: 1. Samson KOTI [GK], 2. Hardies AENGARI, 3. Nelson SALE KILIFA, 4. Tome FAISI, 5. Freddie KINI, 6. Leslie NATE, 7. Henry FA'ARODO, 8. Jeffery BULE, 9. Benjamin TOTORI, 10. Joe LUWI, 11. Ian PAIA, 12. Gagame FENI, 13. Mostyn BEUI, 14. Joses NAWO, 15. Jack WETNEY, 16. Himson TELEDA, 17. Paul HIRI, 18. Seni NGAVA, 19. Leonard ROKOTO, 20. Paul HUIA [GK], 21. Emmanuel POILA, 22. Willie LAMANI, 23. Joachim WAROI
Coach: Jacob MOLI

Tahiti: 1. Xavier SAMIN [GK], 2. Alvin TEHAU, 3. Vincent SIMON, 4. Teheivarii LUDIVION, 5. Ariihau TERIITAU, 7. Henri CAROINE, 9. Teaonui TEHAU, 10. Nicolas VALLAR, 11. Stanley ATANI, 12. Hiro POROIAE, 13. Steevy CHONG HUE, 14. Roihau DEGAGE, 15. Sebastien LABAYEN, 16. Efrain ARANEDA, 17. Jonathan TEHAU, 18. Axel WILLIAMS, 19. Marama VAHIRUA, 20. Yannik VERO, 21. Tauraa MARMOUYET, 22. Mikael ROCHE [GK], 23. Gilbert MERIEL [GK]
Coach: Eddy ETAETA

New Caledonia vs. New Zealand
6pm local time, Friday 7 September
Stade Numa Daly
Noumea, New Caledonia

Referee: Norbert HAUATA [TAH]
Assistant Referee 1: Tevita MAKASINI [TGA]
Assistant Referee 2: Philippe REVEL [TAH]
4th Official: Averii JACQUES [TAH]

New Caledonia: 1. Rocky NYIKEINE [GK], 2. Jeremie DOKUNENGO, 3. Emile BEARUNE, 4. Georges BEARUNE, 5. Kalaje GNIPATE, 6. Olivier DOKUNENGO, 7. Dominique WACALIE, 8. Miguel KAYARA, 9. Jacques HAEKO, 10. Cesar LOLOHEA, 11. Bertrand KAI, 12. Roy KAYARA, 13. Noel KAUDRE, 14. Jean-Patrick WAKANUMUNE, 15. Dick KAUMA, 16. Iamel KABEU, 17. Joel WAKANUMUNE, 18. Yohann MERCIER, 19. Georges GOPE-FENEPEJ, 20. Steeve IXOEE [GK], 21. Luther WAHNYAMALLA, 22. Marc OUNEMOA [GK], 23. Pierre NYIKEINE
Coach: Alain MOIZAN

New Zealand 1. Mark PASTON [GK], 2. Winston REID, 3. Tony LOCHHEAD, 4. Ben SIGMUND, 5. Tommy SMITH, 6. Ryan NELSEN, 7. Leo BERTOS, 8. Michael McGLINCHEY, 9. Shane SMELTZ, 10. Chris KILLEN, 11, Marco ROJAS, 12. Glen MOSS [GK], 13. Daniel KEAT, 14. Ivan VICELICH, 15. Jeremy BROCKIE, 16. Kosta BARBAROUSES, 17. Tim PAYNE, 18. Michael BOXALL, 19. Chris WOOD
Coach: Ricki HERBERT




Updated On Wednesday, September 05, 2012