Fiji march into semi-finals

Fiji ensured they would make it out of Group B, although their final pool placing is still uncertain, with a 4-1 win over Cook Islands and Les Cagous also had little trouble in wrapping up yet another heavy victory, this time 8-0 over American Samoa.
The hosts’ triumph means they have all but secured a top two Group A finish – there is still a very slim mathematical chance that Solomon Islands and Vanuatu could pip them but both sides would need to win their last games by massive margins to beat New Caledonia’s vastly superior goal difference.
That scenario is somewhat unlikely as Solomon Islands’ final fixture happens to be against the group leaders and, while a Bonitos win is possible, the odds are against a massive victory over a side that has looked best on show so far at the Games.
In a day of lop-sided scorelines, Papua New Guinea tore the Kiribati defence apart for a remarkable 17-1 win while Solomon Islands and Vanuatu kept their semi-final hopes alive with important victories, 6-1 over Tuvalu and 4-1 against Guam respectively.
Only one out of that pair can join New Caledonia in the semi-finals though and Vanuatu appear the more likely to do so as their final clash is against American Samoa, a side they are expected to defeat in a straightforward manner.
Vanuatu kept themselves in the hunt with their success over Guam today but the win wasn’t secured as smoothly as the scoreline might suggest. Non-OFC member Guam, who have recorded only one win so far, flipped the form book on its head by taking the lead through Jason Cunliffe in the 14th minute.
It was an advantage they held until the break but their hopes of a memorable win were dashed soon after the restart as Vanuatu scored four times in just over half an hour, the goals going to Kensi Tangis, Robert Tasso, Jean Kaltak and Ricky Tari.
The outcome was similar for Solomon Islands, for whom talisman Benjamin Totori and James Naka scored doubles. Joe Luwi and Tome Faisi also found the target while Tuvalu replied through James Lepaio.
But both those performances were bettered by the day’s final match at Rivière Salée, which saw New Caledonia again run riot. Les Cagous previous matches had resulted in wins by 5-0, 9-0 and 8-0 margins and the pattern of comprehensive triumphs continued against an American Samoa side who could not match the defending champions’ passing and movement.
Striker Betrand Kai led the way with a four-goal haul – a feat that proves his five strikes against Guam were no fluke – while Jacques Haeko, Patrick Qaeze, Kenji Vendegou and Michel Hmae also got on the scoresheet.
Over in nearby Boulari, Fiji were delighted to book their place in the semi-finals but the achievement was soured somewhat by the sending off of star striker Roy Krishna, who will now be suspended for the final group match against Papua New Guinea. While Fiji are guaranteed to go through, that clash is still of significance as it will play a big part in deciding who finishes top of Group B and thus avoids a likely semi-final meeting with the seemingly unbeatable New Caledonia.
Goals to Krishna, Malakai Kainihewe, Maciu Dunadamu and Avinesh Swamy accounted for Cook Islands, who replied through Joseph Ngauora.
Knowing goal difference could prove crucial if they fail to beat Fiji, Papua New Guinea showed no mercy to Kiribati, unleashing the full arsenal of their attacking abilities in the rout. Nathaniel Lepani led the way with four strikes but there will be a fight for the match ball as Gari Moka and Samuel Kini also netted hat-tricks. Niel Hans and Jeremy Yasasa both scored twice while Michael Foster, Felix Bondaluke and Mauri Wasi also struck.
There are no men’s or women’s matches scheduled for tomorrow but the action will return in full-on fashion on Monday with nine games taking place across three venues.

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