Oceania Football Confederation > News > OFC Futsal Championship Invitational 2014 > Hometown glory couples with Malaysian comeback

Hometown glory couples with Malaysian comeback

Buoyed by their outstanding performance against Tahiti in their first futsal international on home soil, New Caledonia barely seemed to notice the absence of their coach William Brett on the bench. Deputy Steeve Laigle stepped up to the challenge of leading the squad and saw that they maintained a high intensity – and was compensated for his hard work.
“It’s very good, I’m very happy,” he says of the team’s performance.
“Our last game was hard against Tahiti, but they were respectful of their defensive roles, they counter-attacked exactly as we had worked on and tonight, for me, they were perfect.
“We have put ourselves in a good position in this tournament, it’s the first time in an OFC tournament that Calédonie has followed a draw with a win so I think that will give us a boost. I think against New Zealand we’ll let loose – we have nothing to lose,” an ecstatic Laigle finishes.
Both the hosts and their neighbours Vanuatu came into the match in need of a win, not only to aid their place in the standings, but to give the players an added morale boost. It took a while to separate the sides, with New Caledonia finally earning the advantage with 8 minutes remaining in the first half.
Eric Saihuwala made a solo run through the middle of the court before unleashing past Ivano Philip. The second came shortly after when captain Ivann Pourouoro stole possession on the edge of the Vanuatu circle and fired home past a helpless Philip.
Vanuatu were pleased to make it to the break without conceding any further goals, and even came back firing as Ben Hungai played a free kick across the court to Donald Avock who walloped his shot past Ronan Euzen.
Despite a moment of elation the hurt was far from over for Vanuatu, a side which thrilled the crowd just two days earlier with a ruthless victory over Tahiti. New Caledonia hit back as Glendon Masaai got his toe to a Malik Paulet shot only for Ivannoe Bamy to smash past the keeper as he arrived at the far post. Bamy had his second a short time later when he controlled down a long throw from Euzen, nudging past an advancing Masaai.
New Caledonia added yet another to their tally as Euzen again threw long this time finding his captain Pourouoro who drew Masaai before nudging the ball to the right for an arriving Mainon Kaouwi to convert. Another rapid transition from the Caledonians was the start of a great goal as Pourouoro played his way out of a two-man sandwich on touch to set up Saihuliwa who drove low and hard for his second of the evening.
The final action of the match was but a consolation for a hard working but unrewarded Vanuatu as Pakoa Rakom’s solo run and eventuating shot were stopped by Euzen, only for a waiting Terry Malapa to slot in between the gap for his side’s second goal.
It was a disappointing hit out for Vanuatu coach Louis Dominique who thought his side performed well but again lacked the final touch.
“We didn’t do enough. This is our third game of the competition and in my opinion the boy’s probably haven’t had enough rest,” he says.
“As we’re playing every day, physically it’s showing. Futsal is a game that demands a lot physically and mentally and you need to be at the right level to remain competitive.”
The evening’s second match up was a much anticipated replay of the 2013 semi-final between runners-up Malaysia and Tahiti which finished in a penalty shoot-out. Tahiti’s record ahead of kick-off was two losses while Malaysia had also lost in their opening match, looking a shell of their former self.
Malaysia coach Maizal Marzuki had hoped, following their defeat to New Zealand, that a day off would be enough to get his side’s campaign back on track and he was proven right as his side looked eons livelier than their last hit out.
Just five minutes in, after some heavy pressure on the deep-lying Tahiti defence, Firdaus Ambiah had opened the scoring for Malaysia. The match became very back-and-forth as both sides did their best to be the next team to score. The honour fell to Malaysia in the end as Nizam Ali whipped around goalkeeper Apera Tetauira for his side’s second.
Tahiti became their own worst enemy as they showed too much of the ball in front of their own goal. A swift counter was kicked off by Shamsul Zamri who lobbed the centre court to Fariq Mohammad who took several touches before delivering to Ridzwan Bakri who beat Tetauira at his post. Just seven seconds were all Asmie Zahari needed to convert a penalty and round out the first half with a comfortable 4-0 lead.
Tahiti hit out immediately after the restart as Steeven Tino lifted the ball over the keeper in the first minute back to get things underway for his side.
However like in the match the crowd had witnessed earlier, the jubilation of the Oceania side didn’t last long as Malaysia continued their goalscoring ways. Fariq Mohammad laid off to Shamsul Zamri who added his name to the list. Just as it was for Vanuatu, Tahiti were also rewarded with a consolation prize, as Smith Tino drilled his effort past Razali.
Marzuki is adamant his side is returning to the form they displayed during their 2013 campaign.
“First my boys were disciplined and followed my instructions. I asked them to press Tahiti and they did well with that and it’s how we scored many of our goals,” he says.
“We expected a tough, physical game and that’s what we got but I am pleased we came out the other side with a victory.”
Another disappointing result for Marzuki’s opposite Heitapu Hunter, who said the performances of some of the younger squad members was something positive he can take from the loss.
“I’m very happy with the players who had a good game today,” Hunter says. “It’s just that the first half they didn’t start well. But the second half we won when you look at the two goals to one tally.
“What I asked the team to do at half-time was to win the second half because to come back from a 4-0 deficit is very difficult to do against Malaysia, so I’m happy.”
Making his debut for the national side was injury replacement Tehaumanarii Bennett who, despite being just 17 years old, impressed his coach with a determined performance which saw him put a stop to at least two otherwise certain goals.
“I really wanted to test him here and I was very happy with what I saw. The future is in good hands for Tahiti.”
The OFC Futsal Championship Invitational 2014 continues tomorrow at Arene du Sud as Vanuatu takes on Malaysia at 6pm (local) before New Caledonia attempt to dethrone New Zealand at 8pm (local), Tahiti have a bye.

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