(Photo Credit: OFC Media via Phototek)
AS Academy Féminine have come from behind to beat Koloale FC 4-1 and deservedly win the inaugural OFC Women’s Champions League title in Port Moresby.
The New Caledonian side, who needed at least a draw to clinch the title, fell behind late in the first half but showed terrific composure first to level proceedings within a couple of minutes, before taking control in a four-minute period early in the second half.
From a free-kick on the left-hand side of the field Jackie Pahoa drifted the ball into the box and Alice Wenessia rose above the approaching Sylvester Maenu’u in the Koloale goal to head the ball into the net in the 55th minute. In the ascendency Louise Luepak then fired home from a corner four minutes later and the celebrations started early on the AS Academy Féminine bench.
Wenessia, who won Player of the Match and would surely be a contender for the player of the tournament, scored her second in the 84th minute and AS Academy controlled the remainder of the game before the final whistle sparked jubilant celebrations from the New Caledonian.
A stunning individual goal from Koloale FC captain Ileen Pegi had earlier set the game alight late in the first half.
Pegi received the ball down the left and played a couple of one two passes before unleashing a right footed shot from just outside the 18-yard box into the left-hand corner of the net to put the underdogs in front in the 38th minute.
At that stage the tournament was thrown wide open but AS Academy, who had never trailed in their previous three matches, delivered the perfect response almost immediately. Christelle Wahnawe scored her 6th goal of the tournament with a strike of real quality, a volley from outside the box two minutes later that may well go down as the goal of the tournament.
It had been a relatively even first half. While AS Academy Féminine largely dominated possession, they had few clear openings until Wahnawe’s strike and failed to really trouble Sylvester Maenu’u in the Koloale FC goal.
Their best chance early on fell to Ronaldine Hnaune in the 10th minute when Drenga Leme delivered a pinpoint cross from the right but Leme, unmarked coming in on the far post, pushed her header well wide.
Wahnawe had a couple of half chances from outside the box and one from just inside that she blasted straight at the keeper in the 24th minute.
AS Academy Féminine had stunned home-town favourites Hekari United on the opening match day with a 100th minute winner. That 2-1 victory, alongside 4-1 and 5-0 triumphs over Labasa Women FC and Kiwi FC respectively had the New Caledonian side needing only a point to claim the title.
Instead they finish the tournament with a perfect four wins from four matches and head home to Noumea on Sunday as the inaugural OFC Women’s Champions League champions.
AS Academy Féminine: 4 (Christelle WAHNAWE 40’, Alice WENESSIA 55’ 84’, Louise LUEPAK 59)
Koloale FC: 1 (Ileen Pegi 38′)