Oceania Football Confederation > News > Unclassified > Fiji takes out gold medal

Fiji takes out gold medal

OFC (SUVA), 12 July 2003: Fiji have won the men’s football gold medal at the South Pacific Games after beating New Caledonia in the gold medal playoff, 2-0, at the National Stadium in Suva last night.

New Caledonia took out the silver medal while Vanuatu beat Tahiti, 1-0, for the bronze medal in last night’s curtain raiser match.

Last night’s victory was Fiji’s second South Pacific Games title since the Games were started back in 1963. Fiji last won in 1991 when the Games were held in Papua New Guinea.

The women’s football tournament was won last Thursday by Papua New Guinea. Guam took out the silver medal with Tonga edging out Tahiti for the bronze medal.

The South Pacific Games comes to a close tonight with the closing ceremony in Suva. The South Pacific Games are the biggest regional multi-sports event in the Pacific region (excluding New Zealand and Australia) and held every four years.

They were started as an initiative to foster closer and more harmonious relations between the island nations of the Pacific. This initiative was ratified by the South Pacific Forum secretariat in the early 1960’s and has continued to this day. The next South Pacific Games are scheduled to be held in Apia, Samoa in 2007.


Match 24: Fiji vs New Caledonia

OFC: Fiji won the men’s football gold medal last night after beating New Caledonia in the final 2-0 at the National Stadium in Suva. Captain Esala Masi and cousin, Manoa Masi were the heroes for Fiji scoring both of the goals.

Manoa was on the end of a delightful cross by Esala in the first half to put Fiji up 1-0 at half-time. Then nearly twenty minutes into the second half, Esala clinched victory with a sensational 35 metre goal from a free kick on the left side which went around the wall and slid past the outstretched New Caledonia goal keeper Michel Hne.

New Caledonia never got into their attacking groove and was out of sync from a combination of fierce defensive pressure the Fijians subjected them to and the slippery conditions caused by heavy rain prior to kick-off which lasted twenty minutes and kept many spectators away from the game as a result. The final was also televised live on Fiji TV but still a crowd of around 8 to 10,000 turned up to watch the match.

According to Competition Manager, Bob Kumar, who is also the Executive Secretary of the Fiji Football Association, the late weather condition forced away many people as there is limited covered seating available and the majority of spectators sat on the embankments.

It was hoped the match would attract a similar crowd to the 20,000 that had reportedly attended the 1979 South Pacific Games football final which is the unofficial crowd attendance record for the Games.

Fiji coach Tony Buesnel was understandably ecstatic afterwards and emotional scenes were seen from the spectators, players and officials alike. Buesnel expressed his delight at the victory capping of over a month of matches where the team improved and matured with each performance.

His New Caledonia counterpart was disappointed but happy his team made the final to gain respect. The coach Serge Martinengo De Novack had led his team to upsets over Tahiti, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu en route to the final and came close to increasing his country’s already bountiful medal tally at the Games. But the team which had played some attractive football in the lead-up games was shut down by Fiji’s physical and aerial superiority. The slippery underfoot conditions hampered New Caledonia’s passing game while Fiji excelled with their speed on the flanks, utilising crosses and long balls to take advantage of their height. New Caledonia dangermen, Ramon Djamali and Michel Hmae were played out of the game as a result while captain, Jean-Marc Case had to work over time in coordinating the last line of defence against the taller Fijians.

Another factor helping Fiji was the support they got from playing at home and in front of vocal supporters they rose to the occasion and dispelled the patchy form of late to finally bring everything together when it counted. The presence of Esala Masi – Fiji’s only player currently in Australia’s National Soccer League – also proved crucial. His goal scoring exploits made him the co-leading goal scorer in the South Pacific Games with ten strikes matched only by the Solomon Islands marksman Commins Menapi whose team bowed out in the group rounds.

The Fiji Football Association also poured massive support into their team offering monetary incentives for the players after each victory which was a good gesture, albeit compensation, to the players who have devoted their time to being with the team and sacrificing other personal and family commitments. It was Fiji’s second South Pacific Games title since the Games started in 1963. Fiji last won gold in 1991.

Fulltime: 2-0 Fiji

Halftime: 1-0 Fiji

Kick-off: 7:00pm

Venue: National Stadium, Suva

Crowd: 10,000 Weather: rain, humid

Goals scorers:

6. Manoa Masi (FIJ) 30′

12. Esala Masi (FIJ) 63′

Cautions: 17. Seveci Rokotakala (FIJ) 71′; 12. Esala Masi (FIJ) 83′; 8. Emosi Baleinuku (FIJ) 84′; 16. Andre Sinedo (NCL) 58′; 12. Frank Oiremoin (NCL) 82′

Match Officials:

Referee: Harry Attison (Vanuatu)

Assistant Referee 1: Michel Angot (Tahiti)

Assistant Referee 2: Hillary Ani (PNG)

Fourth Official: Charles Ariiotima (Tahiti)

Match Commissioner: Tautulu Roebeck (Samoa)

Referee Inspector: Hari Naicker (Fiji)

Team Lists:


1. Simione M Tamanisau (GK)

2. Lorima Dau

6. Manoa Masi (-73′)

7. Malakai Kainihewe (-79′)

9. Thomas Vulivuli

10. Ratu Veresa Toma

12. Esala Masi

13. Taniela Waqa

15. Salesh Kumar

17. Seveci Rokotakala (-86′)

18. Peni Pononi


3. Ratu Marika Rodu

4. Waisake Sabutu

5. Luke Vidovi

8. Emosi Baleinuku (+79′)

11. Pita Biri Rabo (+73′)

14. Ronald Ram

16. Harris Bali

19. Laisiasa Gatarua (+86′)

20. Afroz Nabi

21. Ratu Baledrokadroka

New Caledonia:

1. Michel Hne

2. Jean Marc-Case

3. Maurice Cawa

5. Ramon Djamali

7. Gil Elmour (-78′)

8. Michel Hmae

10. Benjamin Logue

15. Paul Poatinda (-57′)

16. Andre Sinedo

17. Wiako Jacky (-46′)

18. Pierre Wajoka


4. Dahote Jacques

6. Dokunengo Oliver

9. Kabel Lameu (+57′)

11. Joseph Luenu (+78′)

12. Frank Oiremoin (+46′)

13. Ouka Nicolas

14. Pian Theodore

19. Francis Watrone

20. Louis Samek

21. Eric Elmour

Match 23: Vanuatu vs Tahiti

OFC: Vanuatu gained some consolation from the disappointment of losing to New Caledonia in last Wednesday’s semi-final by beating Tahiti 1-0 in the bronze medal (third/fourth playoff) match at the National Stadium in Suva last night.

The win was also revenge for their loss to Tahiti in the OFC Nations Cup third and fourth playoff in Auckland. For defending champions Tahiti, they finished their South Pacific Games in disappointment missing out on the medals and coming fourth. This will likely reflect in the next FIFA ranking.

Vanuatu was also disappointed at slipping in the semis after a penalty shootout to New Caledonia, who was eventually outclassed 0-2 by Fiji in the gold medal final. But urged on by coach, Carlos Buzzetti, Vanuatu were able to get the upper-hand over Tahiti with one of the few genuine scoring opportunities that appeared in an otherwise dour affair between the two island nation giants.

Buzzetti had reacted to Vanuatu’s loss to New Caledonia dropping captain and goal keeper David Chilia to the bench along with first choice wing back Manley Junior Tabe. His Tahitian counterpart Patrick Jacquemet also changed his line-up from the one that l
ose to Fiji by a golden goal in the semi-finals. Striker Naea Bennett, veteran defender Angelo Tchen and wing back Steve Lecaill were the main casualties.

Both teams played conservatively in the first half and this reflected in the nil all score at half-time. Neither team was willing to commit themselves on attack too much lest it leave itself open for the counter attack which both teams were renowned for. Tahiti brought on Bennett at half-time in an effort to boost its scoring power.

However, the crucial midfield battle was dominated by Vanuatu thanks to Australian based Seimata Chilia, who controlled proceedings well and provided the forward impetus that led to Vanuatu’s match winning goal ten minutes after the break.

From a corner kick taken by Auretau Frank, veteran striker Etienne Mermer scored his sixth goal of the tournament after rising above the Tahitian goal keeper, Daniel Tapeta, and connecting with a well timed header to put his side in the lead permanently.

Tahiti quickly took the initiative in an effort to peg back the deficit pushing Tagawa, Bennett and Senechal up front. However, anticipating this move, Buzzetti sent made some tactical changes subbing on youngster Roger Joe for striker Richard Iwai. Earlier, Mermer had come off after a bloody head clash with Tapeta. Centre backs Graham Demas and Wilkins Lauru were superb for Vanuatu during the latter stages keeping the dangerous Tagawa at bay after he and Bennett began to make inroads up the middle with their silky dribbling skills. Time eventually ran out on Tahiti and Vanuatu celebrated its bronze medal after being pipped at the post for third at the last three Games’ football tournaments in 1995, 1991 and 1987 (there was no football in Guam, 1999).

Fulltime: 1-0 Vanuatu

Halftime: 0-0

Kick-off: 5:00pm

Venue: National Stadium, Suva

Crowd: 6000+

Weather: overcast, humid

Goals scorers:

10. Etienne Mermer (VAN) 57′

Cautions: 9. Felix Tagawa (TAH) 89′

Match Officials:

Referee: Leone Rakaroi (Fiji)

Assistant Referee 1: Neil Poloso (Solomon Islands)

Assistant Referee 2: Fiti Aimaasu (Samoa)

Fourth Official: Rajendra Singh (Fiji)

Match Commissioner: Tautulu Roebeck (Samoa)

Referee Inspector: Hari Naicker (Fiji)

Team Lists:


20. John Presley Garae (GK)

4. Lexa Bule Bibi

5. Wilkins Simon

6. Graham Demas

8. Ali Silas Silas

9. Seimata Chilia

10. Etienne Mermer (-68′)

12. Lorry Thomsen (-54′)

13. Richard Iwai (-87′)

15. Daniel Koko Alick

16. Alphonse Welin Qorig


1. David Chilia

2. Tony Sope

3. Manley Junior Tabe

7. Fedy Vava

14. Pita David Maki (+68′)

17. Tomake Philip Tom

18. Auretau Frank (+54′)

19. Roger Joe (+87′)


1. Daniel Tapeta

3. Vehia Maurirere

5. Sylvain Boene

6. Frank Papaura

7. Tetahio Auraa

8. Teva Zaveroni

9. Felix Tagawa

10. Tony Senechal

12. Heimano Guyon (-46′)

14. Abel Terevarua

15. Raimoana Bennett


2. Angelo Tchen

4. Steeve Lecaill

11. Naea Bennett (+46′)

13. Larry Marmouyet

16. Xavier Samin

17. Aldo Tauhara

18. Teiki Kohumoetini



Commins Menapi (SOL) – 10 goals

Esala Masi (FIJ) – 10 goals

Naea Bennett (TAH) – 8 goals

Felix Tagawa (TAH) – 7 goals

Paul Poatinda (NCL) – 7 goals

Etienne Mermer (VAN) – 6 goals

Michel Hmae (NCL) – 5 goals

Richard Iwai (VAN) – 5 goals

Seimata Chilia (VAN) – 4 goals

Unulolo Feao (TON) – 4 goals

Lamel Kabeu (NCL) – 4 goals

Ramon Djamali (NCL) – 3 goals

Pierre Wajoka (NCL) – 3 goals

Heimano Guyon (TAH) – 3 goals

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