OFC, Belfast: There was much to celebrate at the Northern Ireland Milk Cup yesterday with Otago recording its first win of the tournament, albeit a close shave against Dundalk where the final result was decided on penalties.
However, patches of brilliance were not enough for Oceania’s other representative as Samoa fell to its fifth straight loss, a demure 0-4 result against Irish county side Fermanagh.
The Otago team competing in the premier (under seventeen) division got some consolation for missing out on the Milk Cup finals by edging out Dundalk, 5-3 on penalties, after the match had finished a 2-2 draw at the end of regulation time. The New Zealand side now advances to the Premier Northern Bank Dunluce Trophy 5/6th playoff with NK Factor on 25 July at 10:30am (local time).
Samoa will play its final match against Cherry Orchard in the Junior (under fifteen) Division Northern Bank Dunluce Trophy 7/8th Playoff on 25 July at 10:30am. It will be the young Samoans last chance to grab its first international scalp before the long trip home.
But according to Samoan coach David Brand, they will have to play a lot smarter, even though a win would have been considered a bonus to the more realistic goal of improving the finer points of their game. Coming off a credible performance in their 0-1 loss in the previous game, the self-belief that had been instilled in the team was forgotten as old habits creeped back against County Fermanagh yesterday.
Samoa as expected came out with loads of enthusiasm and came close to scoring on a couple of occasions, however the quality of finishing was again poor. In one memorable moment, Seti Talalelei made a break and with the last line of defence breached and the goal keeper at his mercy he butchered the shot on goal.
The patient Irish playing at home weathered the initial onslaught and with half-time looming pounced on some lazy defence to score a sensational goal from close to 25 metres out. The Samoans were guilty for ball watching as the legs began to tire and paid the price. Then in a flash, the Scots had rattled in two more goals – which saw the score inflate to 3-0.
No doubt fuming at the break to concede a hat trick of goals in a five minute period, Brand’s tirade latched on. But though the Samoans competed well in the second half, the laziness of mind again crept back to haunt them just before the final whistle when a spectacularly taken free kick sailed into Samoa’s box for a Scots player to blast past the replacement goal keeper who had no chance.
The positive aspect of the match from a Samoan perspective was they were more enterprising on attack and confident on the ball. But lapses in concentration and inability to read the game, especially on derence, was their eventual downfall.
Photo: Some of the locals join the Samoa U15 players in performing a traditional Samoan war dance called the ‘siva tau’ at the Milk Cup in Belfast, Northern Ireland. photo courtesy NIMilk Cup Website.