Substitute Clifford Fafale and goalkeeper Phillip Mango were the heroes as Central Coast FC secured a thrilling penalty shootout win over Solomon Warriors FC to qualify for the OFC Champions League in front of an enthralled crowd at Lawson Tama Stadium in Honiara.
Tigi Molea and Alvin Hou had twice given Solomon Warriors the lead but late goals in both normal time and extra-time from Fafale allowed Mango to prove the hero as Central Coast won the shootout 4-2.
Much like the first-leg, Solomon Warriors started strong and took an early lead, Mango spilling Hou’s cross into the path of Tigi Molea who scored inside the opening two minutes.
Central Coast thought they had equalised midway through the first-half, only for referee Ben Aukwai to decide Fred Bala’s free-kick delivery from the right had not crossed the line. Judd Molea then hit the woodwork with a stunning free-kick for the Warriors to close out an even first-half.
The second-half continued in a balanced manner with Harrison Mala coming close for Solomon Warriors before Central Coast forced Warriors goalkeeper Timothy Maearasia into fine reaction saves from both Hudson Oreinima and Junior Fordney.
But Central Coast’s pressure eventually paid off. Javin Wae’s mazy run and cross found Fafale in the box who levelled the game with just five minutes left in normal time.
Extra-time beckoned and Solomon Warriors again looked to have the game won, with Hou giving them the lead. However, after Jeffrey Donga missed a chance to secure victory, Hou was shown a red card to galvanise the Central Coast effort.
Sensing an opportunity, Jacob Moli’s men flew forward and Fafale’s brilliant touch and finish took the game into penalties.
Central Coast dispatched all four of their strikes from the spot and Mango then produced goalkeeping heroics to keep out John Alick and Matson Feni and send Central Coast into the OFC Champions League main stage.
Central Coast FC 2 (Clifford FAFALE 86′, 120)
Solomon Warriors FC 2 (Tigi MOLEA 2′ Alvin HOU 96′)
Central Coast win 4-2 on pens