HOSTS AND HEAVYWEIGHTS SHINE ON OPENING DAY OF U-20 CHAMPS
Hosts Samoa and heavyweights New Zealand have made winning starts to the 2006 Oceania U-20 Women’s Championship in Apia.
Buoyed by a vocal home crowd, Samoa overpowered Fiji 3-0 with goals from Josephine Ane and Suitupe Tafafa (2) at the Toleafoa J S Blatter Soccer Complex.
Fiji looked to scored a late consolation goal from the penalty spot only to have it disallowed after a Fijian player encroached early. Samoan goalkeeper Kalaponi Leato then saved the re-take to the delight of the sun-bathed crowd.
New Zealand entered the first Oceania tournament following Australia’s departure to the Asia Football Confederation as overwhelming favourites to qualify for August’s FIFA U-20 World Cup in Russia.
They predictably won their opening game but the 4-0 scoreline over the Solomon Islands belied the difficultly New Zealand had in breaking down their gritty opponents.
New Zealand were made to wait until the 51st minute to break the stalemate with Hannah Rishworth climbing above the static Solomon Islands defence to nod home Ria Percival’s corner.
Percival doubled the Kiwis’ lead in the 62nd minute when her cross from the left hand touchline duped the Solomons’ goalkeeper and cannoned into the net off the far-post.
New Zealand had their third a minute later when US-based Ali Riley coolly finished after being put clear by second-half substitute Petria Rennie.
Percival capped the scoring in the 79th minute, tapping home from close range after a determined run and an excellent cross from work-acholic striker Emma Humphries.
New Zealand head Group A on goal differential from Tonga who came from a goal down to beat Vanuatu 4-1 in their opener.
Marion Tuipulotu (2), Kaati Malua and Salome Vaenuku scored for Tonga while Fabrina Serveux added a consolation for Vanuatu.
Papua New Guinea share the Group B lead with Samoa after beating New Caledonia 3-0.
Gusty winds made life difficult for PNG who took the lead a minute after halftime through Pauline Turakaura. Turakaura nutmegged the New Caledonia goalkeeper who still appeared dazed after a heavy collision minutes earlier.
Zeena Limbai (58th) and Jacquline Chalau (87th) capped PNG’s dominance.
PNG play Fiji in their next match on Saturday with Samoa up against New Caledonia in the other Group B encounter.
Tonga will be tested by the Solomons while New Zealand play Vanuatu.
Oceania U-20 Women’s Championship
Day One results
New Zealand 4 (Hannah Rishworth 51, Ria Percival 62, 79, Ali Riley 63) Solomon Islands 0. Halftime: 0-0.
Tonga 4 (Kaati Malua, Salome Vaenuku, Marion Tuipulotu 2) Vanuatu 1 (Fabrina Serveux). Halftime: 0-0.
New Caledonia 0 Papua New Guinea 3 (Pauline Turakaur 45, Zeena Limbai 58, Jacquline Chalau 87). Halftime 0-1.
Samoa 3 (Suitupe Tafafa 2, Josephone Ane) Fiji 0. Halftime 2-0.
Group A P W D L GF GA PTS
1 1 0 0 4 0 3
Tonga 1 1 0 0 4 1 3
Vanuatu 1 0 0 1 1 4 0
Solomon Islands 1 0 0 1 0 4 0
Group B P W D L GF GA PTS
Samoa 1 1 0 0 3 0 3
Papua New Guinea 1 1 0 0 3 0 3
Fiji 1 0 0 1 0 3 0
New Caledonia 1 0 0 1 0 3 0