2006 OFC Club Championships – Preliminary
Govind Park, Ba, Fiji
6 – 10 February 2006
Match Day 2 – Match 3
LOTOHA’APAI SCORE FIRST WIN
Second half goals secure victory
Lotoha’apai FC scored a 3-1 win over Nikao Sokattak on the second match day of the 2006 OFC Club Championships – Preliminary with three goals midway through the second half. Goals to Lafaele Moala, Ilaisa Makasini and Maake Uhatahi gave the Tongan champions the victory.
Nikao’s Steve Willis opened the scoring after 10 minutes with a sublime half volley that crashed into the net off an upright, leaving international `keeper Kavakava Manumua with no chance. But a fifteen minute flurry with goals in the 54th, 61st, and 67th minutes cancelled any hope the Cook Islanders had of a win.
Despite the early setback, Lotoha’apai looked likely to equalize, led by impressive midfielder Mailele Papani, and ably supported by the ball winning Sione Tuhitua the Tongan’s angled balls frequently got their strikers in behind the Nikao back three.
As the match meandered towards the halftime break, John Bataillard brought the best out of Manumua, a Teariki Meteariki cross was whipped in from the left and the young strikers header seemed destined for the top corner, but the `keeper had other ideas spectacularly holding onto the ball at full strech.
Nikao took the slender lead in the break after an entertaining first half that saw both teams insisting on keeping the ball on the ground and shifting it around the pitch.
Nine minutes after the interval Moala equalized, shortly after Makasini scored a well taken goal to give Lotoha’apai the lead. Six minutes later Uhatahi slotted a third after the Tongan side beat the offside trap for the first time in the match. Uhatahi almost bagged a double in the 76th minute but Nikao’s custodian Junior Rapena had other ideas bravely saving at the feet of the oncoming striker.
A minute later Rapena was called into action again, a deft backheel from Papani opened the Nikao defence, but Heimula Leakona squandered the opportunity tamely shooting straight at the `keeper. The Cook Islanders were running out of time and ideas, and with their main offense target Tuka Tisam frequently dropping into midfield, the Nikao attack lacked potency.
The lead proved too big a hill to climb for Nikao, who now play the unbeaten United Eagles in the final match of the tournament on February 10. Lotoha’apai will take on Polynesian neighbours Tuanaimato Breeze of Samoa.
Lotoha’apai FC 3 (Lafaele Moala 54′, Ilasia Makasini 61′, Maake Uhatahi 67′)
Nikao Sokattak 1 (Steve Willis 10′)
Lotoha’apai FC – 1. Kavakava Manumua; 2. Kava Huihahau; 4. Stanlessly Mafi; 6. Heimula Leakona; 7. Kainasi Uhatahi; 8. Mailele Papani; 11. Felise Tuhitahi (c) (9. Maake Uhatahi 45′); 12. Lafaele Moala; 15. Lui Muavesi (10. Semisi Tuifangaloka 77′); 17. Sione Tuhitahi (18. Feao Finau 72′)
Subs not used – 5. Taisi Tukimaka; 13. Teu Fakava; 14. Halapua Falepapalangi
Cautions – none
Nikao Sokattak – 1. Junior Rapena; 2. Teatu Rangi Putere (13. Poko-Long Pauka 56′); 3. Albert Oti; 8. Mona Vaine Keu (c); 9. Teariki Meteariki (14. Steve Cuthers 56′); 10. Steve Willis; 12. Tuka Tisam; 15. John Bataillard (11. Conrad Piri ); 16. Anonga Tisam; 18 Nathan Tisam; 19. Mark Jamieson
Subs not used – 5. Tepou Taana; 6. Kunde Tangimetua; 17. Papa Lee Ponini
Cautions – none