Oceania Football Confederation > News > 2015 OFC U-17 Championship > Tahiti and Vanuatu take top spots

Tahiti and Vanuatu take top spots

Going into the Group B clash, Tahiti and Vanuatu shared the top spot with only four goals difference in the Tahitians favour. Both coaches, Etienne Mermer of Vanuatu and Tahiti’s Ludovic Graugnard, went into the game with high expectations to finish in pole position of their Group and the teams started the game in accordance with their coaches’ wishes.
Vanuatu were the first to attack, securing a corner kick in the first minute of the game. But Tahiti’s Michel Maihi replied immediately with a sustained period of attack that was only thwarted by Vanuatu defender Joseph Iaruel, who anticipated play.
Tahiti came back quickly thanks to Heirauarii Salem, but Vanuatu’s defence proved too strong, clearing the ball away on every attempt.
William Edison provided an attacking chance on goal but it was short-lived before Tahiti were pressuring the Vanuatu defence again. Ariinui Tiatoa and Salem both delivered crosses into the goal box followed a short time later by a free kick to Maihi, but each time Vanuatu were able to defend their goal effectively.
The game turned in Vanuatu’s favour, with Xavier Jimmy finding himself in front of goal twice in quick succession, but he was unable to make his shot count on either attempt.
Thirty minutes into the game, Tahiti found themselves in trouble with their defence in disarray and unable to close down an advancing William Edison, but his shot just missed its target, going over the crossbar.
It wasn’t until the 40th minute of the game that young Tahitian midfielder Salem was rewarded for his persistent efforts in front of goal. He opened the scoring with a superb free kick taken 25 metres out from the goal.
The first half ended with a narrow 1-0 advantage for the Tahitians over Vanuatu.
Vanuatu started the second half clearly with the intention to equalise. Frederick Massing was close in the 62nd minute but a great save from Tahiti goalkeeper Vaiarii Halligan preserved the lead for his side.
A few minutes later Vanuatu’s Jeffrey Tasso was cautioned by New Zealand referee Anna-Marie Keighley, his second yellow card for the match that left his team-mates to finish the game with 10 players.
Tahiti used this opportunity to push forward and five minutes later their top goal scorer Maihi doubled his sides lead with a header in the 73rd minute that deflected off a Vanuatu defender and into the back of the net.
Despite a late surge by Vanuatu, they were unable to get the ball past Halligan, and Tahiti won the game 2-0.
With this result Tahiti confirmed their position at the top of Group B, the only team at the competition to have not conceded any goals, and, along with New Zealand in Group A, go into the semi-final undefeated.
Tahitian coach Ludovic Graugnard was happy with the result, especially that his team have yet to concede a goal, stating it was very good for the confidence of his players going into the semi-final.
“I am very happy with this result. I am a bit disappointed on our first half, it was not very good. The players had difficulties with the passing and movement. The second half was much better.”
Despite the final result, Vanuatu coach Etienne Mermer was pleased with the performance of his players.
“I would like to thank the players for what they have put in today.
“I know the Tahiti team is strong and our players gave them a good challenge. We expected to score some goals but unfortunately we didn’t, this is football.”
Earlier in the afternoon, Solomon Islands took on co-hosts American Samoa.
After their defeat on Match Day 8 at the hands of Tahiti knocking them out of semi-final contention, Solomon Islands wanted to end their tournament on a positive note.
However, American Samoa also wanted to finish their tournament with a result in front of their home crowd and were the first to attack, with striker Joseph Purcell finding himself in a good position to shoot. But he couldn’t find the target and the rest of the game was predominantly one-sided.
Despite a relatively slow start, the Solomon Islands attacking trio of Benjimin Toata, Larry Zama and John Oge soon took control of the game. Oge was the first to put pressure on American Samoa goal keeper Pilimilose Fauolo but his first shot on goal was saved.
The young Solomon Islanders kept pushing and Zama soon found the back of the net in only his second shot on goal in the game, giving his side a 1-0 lead in the 8th minute.
American Samoa faced relentless pressure from Solomon Islands, with Fauolo pulling off a number of outstanding saves in the first 25 minutes to try and keep his side in the game.
Faulo held out until the 26th minute, when Zama scored his second goal from a short distance inside the goal box.
Zama made it 3-0 in the 39th minute after Oge’s shot was initially saved by Fauolo, but Zama followed up and scored to earn his hat-trick.
Philip Maeta made it 4-0 three minutes later when he scored with a shot at close range.
Solomon Islands went into the half time break up 5-0 after Zama, who was called offside in his first attempt, scored his fourth goal in the 5th minute of added time.
Zama scored four more goals in the game, in the 50th, 67th, 87th, and 90th minutes, giving him a total of eight goals scored in one game, a record at this tournament.
Maeta scored his second goal and his team’s 8th in the 68th minute, followed by Solomon Islands captain Junior Hou who, after a number of close shots in the first half finally made it onto the scoreboard in the 70th minute.
Toata and Hendrick Jirah scored in the 71st and 81st minutes respectively, with Zama having the final say in the game, scoring the last two goals in the final three minutes of regular time and helping his side win 13-0 over American Samoa.
Solomon Island coach Jacob Moli commented that he was satisfied with the performance of his team.
“We wanted to finish this tournament on a high note. I am satisfied with the win even if it could have been better. But a win is a win.”
American Samoa coach Uinifareti Aliva was pleased by the attitude of his team despite the result.
“We have tried our best in the last game against Solomon Islands. We had a few players injured.
“I think the players have shown a good attitude on the field today against a very tough team,” he said.
After the results at the end of Match Day 10 and the group stages of the OFC U-17 Championship, Tahiti held onto their place at the top of the table, earned on Match Day 8 in their 3-0 win over Solomon Islands. Despite their big win over American Samoa today, it wasn’t enough for Solomon Islands to move above Vanuatu sitting in second place. Tonga and American Samoa prop up the table in fourth and fifth place respectively, the co-hosts unable to find the back of the net in this competition.
The semi-finals of the OFC U-17 Championship will see winners of Group A New Zealand take on Vanuatu at 1pm, while Tahiti will play New Caledonia at 3.30pm in a francophone rivalry, with both games to be played at Pago Park Soccer Stadium on Saturday 24 January.

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