Kiwi and Tupapa start strong

Samoa club champions Kiwi FC recovered from an early 1-0 deficit to blitz American Samoa winners Utulei Youth FC 6-2, while in the later match the result was never in doubt for Tupapa, winning 7-0 against Tonga side Veitongo FC and sending a clear message to the rest of the competition.
For Kiwi FC – who last competed at and won the OFC Champions League Preliminary in 2014 – the win was a confidence-booster for their squad who haven’t spent much time together pre-tournament.
Coach Martin Tamasese says it was most pleasing to see how they reacted to adversity at different points in the match.
“In the first half Utulei pushed us really hard but we came back in the second and were able to counter it,” Tamasese says.
“We did well to come back from an early goal down, that showed a bit of character which was good.”
A sluggish start to the game saw them give up plenty of scoring opportunities through the opening five minutes.
And with just eight gone on the clock Utulei hit the lead thanks to a Paul Collins goal which saw him beat the keeper to the ball and curl his shot into the waiting net.
That seemed to send shockwaves through the Kiwi side, who replied by creating a number of strong scoring chances themselves.
Jamie Mason had a couple of shots saved by Utulei Youth keeper Jonathan Faavae, while Mike Saofaiga looked likely to score before a bad final touch took the ball away from his feet.
In the case of Saofaiga he wouldn’t have to wait long for redemption, drawing Kiwi back even with a powerful effort on 32 minutes.
Two minutes later Kiwi received a penalty after a Utulei player was judged to have touched the ball in the box, with Tomas Mosquera stepping up to convert the spot kick.
A Utulei own goal five minutes from the break gave the Samoa champions a 3-1 lead.
Utulei started the second half strong defensively, restricting Kiwi to shots outside the box while enjoying some longer sections with the ball as well.
With the second half 30 minutes old the game suddenly came to life again, with three goals netted in a stunning three-minute period.
First Martin Packer took the lead out to 4-1 for Kiwi, before their opposition hit back via Kome Tomasi, who pinged his shot off the bar and into the net.
Less than 60 seconds later the gap was back to three goals after Packer added his second.
A couple of quality saves from Kiwi FC keeper James McPeake made sure there would be no comeback from Utulei, while Mosquera added another goal in the 91st minute to end the match at 6-2.
Post-match Utulei coach Ututoa Ino spoke of a need to improve execution in all areas of the game.
“Obviously we have plenty of work to do,” Ino says.
“Kiwi FC gave us a bit of a lesson here and we will have got some experience out of this, their ball skills were really good today.
“We needed to execute the things we did much better. But I am not too disappointed, I saw my players show some improvement.”
The afternoon’s later match saw Tupapa Maraerenga FC beat Veitongo FC 7-0 in a physical contest at the CIFA Academy in Matavera.
Tupapa dominated almost the entire match, combining patient build-up with some quick switches to their speedy flanks with much success.
Coach Delaney Yaqona was full of praise for his side following the big win.
“It was a great first-up game and I think our biggest strength was how we were able to keep the ball,” Yaqona says.
“We wanted to control the tempo of the game and fortunately we didn’t need to change much and as we kept the ball Veitongo got a bit frustrated and the goals came.
“I think my midfielders did well today to create that space and allow us to use the speed down the flanks.”
Two penalties within the space of five minutes gifted Tupapa an ideal start to the match, with Jared Colligan slotting both attempts in the seventh and twelfth minutes for a 2-0 lead.
From that point on Veitongo tried to wrestle their way back into the game, but had any attempts at keeping possession quickly shut down by the scrambling Tupapa defence.
Some brave keeping from Veitongo custodian Brady Lauti denied further goals for Tupapa, but he was helpless to stop Harlem Simiona’s effort in the 31st minute when the New Zealand-based midfielder emerged unmarked at the back post for an easy tap in.
Eleven minutes later Simiona turned provider, crossing for Colligan to score and take the lead out to 4-0 at the break.
Veitongo started the second 45 minutes in positive fashion, enjoying a brief moment of attacking success when Kilifi Uele blasted a free kick through the wall and forced a save out of Tupapa keeper Sacha Nathu.
But a goal to Colligan in the 60th minute – his fourth of the game – coupled with efforts by Simiona 10 minutes later and Twin Tiro in the first minute of added time blew the score out to 7-0.
The victory propels Tupapa to the top of the table after Match Day 1, but leaves Veitongo with plenty to ponder ahead of a meeting with Utulei Youth on Match Day 2.
“We made too many mistakes, particularly in the first half,” says Veitongo coach Tuia Falepapalangi.
“We gave away two penalty kicks quickly which really hurt, I am not sure why the players did it but it was part of the game and to be honest my players did their best today.”
Match Day 2 kicks off on 28 January, with the second game seeing Tupapa take on Kiwi FC in a top of the table clash.

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