Photo Credit: OFC Media via Christophe Fotozz

Fiji will play Tahiti in the semi-finals of the OFC U-16 Women’s Championship 2023 after a thoroughly deserved win against the Cook Islands in their final Group B match.

There was a frantic pace to the opening stages, with Fiji enjoying a territorial advantage and Cook Islands looking to exploit any defensive gaps on the counter-attack.

It was a moment of magic that broke the deadlock within the first 15 minutes. The Cook Islands defence failing to clear following a long ball into the box and when it broke to Sisilia Tuvou Kuladina, she drove her arrowed effort into the top corner.

Cook Islands captain Jan Taia tried to offer an immediate response with a set-piece but her effort curled wide of goalkeeper Rosalain Sarahphina’s right-hand post.

At the other end, Sarahphina’s opposite number, Vahine Uini reacted smartly to deny Fiji captain Kasanita Tabua from close range but couldn’t stop the second goal coming minutes later, when she failed to get a strong hand to Elesi Tabunase’s cross and Tabua converted the rebound from a couple of yards out.

The Fijian’s continued to push and two goals in the space of four first-half minutes all but put the tie beyond the Cook Islands.

First, Tabunase got her head to a chipped cross from Torika Drosiniwai to beat Uini, before Kuladina grabbed her second with another effort from distance that proved too strong for Uini to keep out.

A number of half-time changes stifled any chance of the momentum carrying in to the second period, with Fiji controlling proceedings but without the same incision as before the break.

Tabua came closest to adding to her side’s tally after an outstanding one-two and run down the right hand side but her effort was parried away by Uini at her near post.

Kuladina almost completed her hat-trick with a late free-kick from out on the left but her curled effort was tipped behind by Uini.

Fiji move on to a semi-final date with Tahiti on Saturday, whilst the Cook Islands will have the opportunity to finish on a high when they face New Caledonia in the Play-off for 5th place on Sunday.

Cook Islands: 0
Fiji: 4 (Sisilia Tuvou KULADINA 13′ 41′, Kasanita TABUA 21′, Elesi TABUNASE 37′)

HT: 0-4