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WOMEN TAKE CENTRE STAGE AT SOUTH PACIFIC GAMES

 

The South Pacific Games sees American Samoa, Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea and the first sight of Solomon Islands as the women’s football tournament returns to action tonight at J.S.Blatter
Playing Field in Apia.

American Samoa – bouyed by their first ever performance on the international stage – face off against Cook Islands, a fellow minnow in Oceania football and also sporting a defeat after their first
match.

Cook Islands fell to a 4-1 opening match defeat against Farouk Janeman’s Fiji team but had enough of the match to suggest they will pose problems for opposition defences who take them too lightly.
The performance of Tupo Patia won admiration from fans and media alike after she scored a memorable strike in the closing stages of the match.

For American Samoa these South Pacific Games represent a triumph of sorts simply by participating. With a small population, restrictions on citizenship reducing the player base even further, and
emigration of the countries brightest young talent to the United States mainland, its a miracle American Samoa has made it this far.

image courtesy of Geoff Dickinson Photography

But there may be better news on the horizon after the performance of goalkeeper Filiga Kerisiano (pitcured above in action versus Papua New Guinea) who kept Papua New Guinea goalless for the best
part of forty minutes in their opening match. A combination of brave keeping, blind luck, the woodwork and some desperate defending ensured American Samoa emerged with some confidence despite the
final six goal margin of defeat.

Papua New Guinea meet Solomon Islands in the late fixture in a re-match of their OFC/FIFA Women’s World Cup Qualifying fixture back in April of this year when the host nation defeated Noel Wagapu’s
team 6-1.

The main talking point in the later fixture will be how far Solomon Islands women’s team have come since they took their bow in Oceania competition back in April. Laydah Samani and Prudence Fula
were the main talking points for an otherwise difficult tournament for the Solomons with Samani, in particular, impressing with her technical prowess on the ball and exciting attacking style.

Fula – scorer of Solomon Islands goal against Papua New Guinea – is back in the team and provides a different attacking option in attack with her height, strength, and physical presence
likely to cause problems for all defences. Fula’s capacity to shoot from distance will also test the ability of some of the tournament’s goalkeepers.

image courtesy of Geoff Dickinson Photography

Diane Justus (above) provides a level head within Solomon ranks but will face a tough task annulling a Papua New Guinea team studded with talent and experience including Deslyn Siniu, Tracey Kig,
Daisy Winas, Priscilla Knalalai – two goal hero against American Samoa – and Margaret Alau.

Second in Oceania only to FIFA Women’s World Cup-bound New Zealand, Papua New Guinea’s favourites tag is well-deserved after achieving their highest ever placing at an OFC Women’s tournament and
winning the gold medal at the XII South Pacific Games – Fiji 2003.  Anything other than a Papua New Guinea victory will be considered an upset with Solomon Islands finishing last at
the World Cup Qualifiers in Lae.

Both matches will be covered throughout their duration by host-broadcaster RFO and available throughout the South Pacific and Oceania region.

American Samoa vs. Cook Islands – 1800hrs (GMT-13)

Papua New Guinea vs. Solomon Islands – 2030hrs (GMT-13)

Action in Pool B doesn’t commence until Thursday 30th August when Tonga take on the unknown quantity of New Caledonia (1500hrs GMT-13) and Tahiti play host-nation Samoa (2030hrs GMT-13).

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