Oceania Football Confederation > News > 2016 OFC Futsal Championship > Kurukuru make it four from four

Kurukuru make it four from four

Tahiti just got one over New Caledonia with their 2-1 victory while New Zealand were pushed hard by Fiji for their 3-1 win.
With the opportunity to throw a curveball in the Kurukuru’s direction and hopefully set themselves back on course for the title, Vanuatu showed a different side to themselves this afternoon.
With all cylinders firing, it was Vanuatu with a number of early chances, forcing turnovers and pressing Solomon Islands into errors and increasing their frustration levels.
In goal for Vanuatu was Serge Daniel who had his game of the tournament making some outstanding saves against the bullet-like shots coming from all over the court. However he couldn’t hold out forever and a swift counter-attack which saw Jack Wetney race towards his opponent goal and play off to Micah Lea’alafa who slotted in behind the keeper.
Seconds after the restart Wetney was finishing one for himself as Solomon Islands went 2-0 up in less than 30 seconds. Furious to have let the concentration drop, Vanuatu kept pressing with Avock and Ricky Tuigaloa acting as enforcers trying to win possession. The pressure paid off just over 10 minutes into the half as Vanuatu captain Ben Hungai smashed a shot past Anthony Talo, who conceded just his third goal of the competition.
The goal boosted Vanuatu’s mood and their increased desire to equalise was evident in their advances forward, however they put too much forward which allowed George Stevenson to nick a third just before the break. Stevenson added his sixth of the tournament with seven minutes left in the match, which in futsal is a longtime as a waning Vanuatu discovered when Solomon Islands added two more through Lea’alafa and James Egeta before the full-time whistle could sound.
It was stressful afternoon for Juliano Schmeling who admits he was concerned in the first half.
“I was definitely worried,” he says. “Vanuatu’s players played very well especially in the first half. Like we already discussed, Vanuatu improve with every game.
“We were expecting a very tough game and Vanuatu showed up today having improved a lot. But I think in the second half with the experienced players I have in my side, it made a difference.”
It was a similar reading of the game from Vanuatu coach Louis Dominique who was pleased with the first half performance, but disappointed it didn’t extend into the second period.
“Solomon Islands were just one level better. I think we made a lot of mistakes, especially in defence, and we were punished as they took those chances and managed to score a lot of goals,” he says.
“In the first half everything was really well organised, just a couple of mistakes in the second half opened things up for Solomon’s to start scoring goals.”
It was a Francophone showdown in the opening Match Day 4 encounter as Tahiti took on New Caledonia with both sides now chasing podium finishes rather than the title they came here for.
Tahiti, having spent the rest day reflecting on a victory unlike their opponent who lost their previous match to Vanuatu, were quick to strike. Teivarii Kaiha, who has been a workhorse for the Aito Arii, finished a set piece with relative ease, smashing past Ronan Euzen to open the scoring 39 seconds in.
It was back and forth for much of the first half with both teams taking pops which were either saved by the keeper or sent off-target. After the break New Caledonia appeared reinvigorated and were soon rewarded as Jean Michel Denis Poadae struck. However the celebrations were cut short when Tane Tave scored off another set piece for Tahiti to hand them back a lead they’d hold on to for the remainder of the match.
“We are very happy to win against New Caledonia because it’s been some time since we have beaten them,” Tahiti coach Jacob Tutavae says.
“New Caledonia have good players and had a good game, but today is our lucky day. To win today is good for the morale ahead of the next match in the competition.”
It was frustrating for New Caledonia’s William Bret to watch a number of chances go amiss.
“We should have finished with a better score, we had plenty of chances, we had a lot going for us. But Tahiti were better, we can’t take anything away from them,” he says.
“I think the players have grown a lot since Wednesday and today didn’t pay off again for us, but I think that’s down to something other than hard work.”
Closing out Match Day 4 were the hosts Fiji taking on the Futsal Whites who were fresh from a defeat against Solomon Islands, and aware that their chances of getting to Colombia 2016 had narrowed even further after Vanuatu’s defeat to the defending champions earlier in the day.
Adding to the New Zealanders frustration was the absolute lift in Fiji’s performance compared with some of their previous matches at the 2016 OFC Futsal Championship.
New Zealand got things underway, but it was Fiji who were soon peppering the Kiwis goal with shots. Showing much greater unity than previous matches the usual suspects continued to shine although Maciu Tuilau was restricted to goal after Ulaiasi Tamanisau was ruled out with injury.
Altaaf Sahib took on a greater role directing play, growing into a leadership role despite his young age. Also emerging as players to watch were Akitesh Kumar and Dhiraj Kumar who had more impact on the game than previously.
Based on their performances it at times looked like Fiji might be the first to score, and while they didn’t get on the board, they kept New Zealand locked out for 17 minutes before Tai Barham latched onto the ball and fired home. A second goal came with just six seconds on the clock as Dylan Manickum’s low shot took a slight deflection past Tuilau.
Fiji continued into the second 20 minutes as they had in the first, exploiting the space and keeping Elias Billeh very busy in goal. Finally they were rewarded for their efforts when captain Mira Sahib raced into the area to finish a move he’d started in his own half.
An error from the inexperienced Tuilau allowed Lucas Da Silva to capitalise and extend his side’s lead but Fiji finished the game incredibly proud of their performance.
“I don’t have the analysis yet but I think we had more chances than New Zealand. Seniority comes into it – they converted what they could and we only got one but I’m happy with today’s performance,” Fiji coach Intiaz Khan says.
While he’s slightly off in his belief that Fiji had more chances than their opponent, they did have more on target. Both sides had 33 shots each, with Fiji getting it right 14 times compared with New Zealand’s ten.
Despite beating Fiji it wasn’t exactly how New Zealand coach Scott Gilligan had planned for the evening to go.
“Yes we always wanted to get the three points, it wasn’t a great performance however,” he says.
“I think after the last game the boys were still a bit down and Solomons beat Vanautu today which means it’s pretty much over for these boys and I think they understood that.
“But we got the win and I think that’s important.”
The final day of action will take place on Saturday 13 February with Tahiti taking on Vanuatu before Fiji play Solomon Islands. The final match of the tournament will see New Zealand play New Caledonia.

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