Sides eye wins on opening day

The eventual winner of the tournament will go through to the home-and-away play-off against New Zealand’s Football Ferns on 31 March and 4 April.
Tonga will face Vanuatu in the opening match at 1:00pm before Papua New Guinea square off against Samoa at 3:30pm. Group stage matches are set to be played from 1-5 March before the 3rd place play-off and final will conclude the Stage 1 tournament on Wednesday 7 March.
Here’s a look at the action that’s in store.
Tonga vs. Vanuatu – 1:00pm, Thursday 1 March
The only time these two sides have met at senior competitive level was at the South Pacific Games in Fiji in 2003 when Tonga ran out 3-2 winners. The Tongans have recorded some impressive results since then including a silver medal at the 2007 South Pacific Games, while Vanuatu have yet to record their first win over another Oceania member at any OFC senior women’s competition. Vanuatu coach Florian Sam will no doubt want to create history, calling on his instrumental captain Elodie Samuel to lead from the midfield. Another talented player at his disposal is defender Sergine Poida – the younger sister of former international men’s captain Moise Poida. Tonga coach Lui Muavesi will be hoping his side’s physical dominance and experience will lead them to victory in front of the home crowd. Lupe Likiliki is likely to start in goal for what could be the 28-year–old’s last OFC tournament, while the Feke sisters provide a potent threat on attack.
In their own words:
“I think it will be a good match and I’m confident our girls will stick to the game plan. The Melanesian teams like Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea are skillful and lighter so we have to take a physical approach to win against them.” – Lui Muavesi, Tonga coach
“I believe Tonga are not so technical but we have to be wary of their speed and strength. It will be important to stay organised on defense and cut down their space.” – Florian Sam, Vanuatu coach
Papua New Guinea vs. Samoa – 3:30pm, Thursday 1 March
The second encounter of the day could be a mismatch as favourites Papua New Guinea take on Samoa, who are playing in their first competitive international in five years. Papua New Guinea, led by coach Steven Mune, are fresh from their gold medal winning performance at the 2011 Pacific Games and boast an experienced squad with the likes of Deslyn Siniu, Daisy Winas, Linda Bunaga and Kathrina Salaiau. At age 18, Sandra Birum will also be one to watch after finishing second top goalscorer at last year’s Pacific Games with five goals to her name. Samoa hosted what was then called the South Pacific Games in 2007, finishing 5th of the nine teams, but have since been out of action due to administrative challenges. There will be few expectations on Tala Seveaalii’s young squad, nearly all of whom are uncapped at senior level. As with the first match up, these two sides have met only once at senior competitive level with Papua New Guinea claiming a 5-2 victory at the 2003 South Pacific Games.
In their own words:
“We don’t know much about Samoa but at the Pacific Games last year we had American Samoa in our group so I think they might be quite similar in terms of their style of play and physicality. All countries are here to play competitive football but as far as our preparation is concerned, we are ready to win.” – Steven Mune, Papua New Guinea coach
“Papua New Guinea are very experienced and will be a difficult team to beat but we have a clear plan for this match. We might be the underdogs but this tournament is not about making up the numbers, we will give it everything.” – Tala Saveaalii, Samoa coach
Team records – OFC Women’s Olympic Qualifiers
Papua New Guinea
Appearances: 2 (2004, 2008)
Wins: 6
Draws: 0
Losses: 3
Goals for: 22
Goals against: 15
2004 Qualifier
vs. Fiji 2-0
vs. Australia 0-10
2008 Qualifier
vs. American Samoa 6-0
vs. Solomon Islands 4-0
vs. Fiji 0-1
vs. Cook Islands 4-1
vs. Tahiti 5-0
vs. Tonga 3-1*
Papua New Guinea beat Tonga 3-1 after extra time in the South Pacific Games final to claim gold and advance to the Stage 2 play-off
Stage 2 Play-off Result:
vs. New Zealand 0-2
Appearances: 1 (2008)
Wins: 1
Draws: 1
Losses: 1
Goals for: 2
Goals against: 4
2008 Qualifier
vs. Tahiti 0-4
vs. New Caledonia 2-0
vs. Tonga 0-0

Appearances: 1 (2008)
Wins: 2
Draws: 2
Losses: 1
Goals for: 4
Goals against: 3
2008 Qualifier
vs. New Caledonia 2-0
vs. Tahiti 0-0
vs. Samoa 0-0
vs. Fiji 1-0
vs. Papua New Guinea 1-3*
*Tonga lost the final 1-3 after extra time to claim silver at the South Pacific Games
Appearances: 0
For the match schedule click here
For the team lists click here

Related posts