With the knockout stage still in reach for all four teams, Group B’s competing nations are all feeling positive ahead of their second OFC U-16 Women’s Championship clashes tomorrow.
An impressive 4-1 victory against American Samoa on Friday placed Fiji at the top of Group B with a higher goal differential than runners-up Cook Islands, but tomorrow’s results could see a big changes in the ladder.
After working on some weaknesses in defence, Fiji coach Marika Rodu is feeling confident about securing their place in the semi-final when they play Tonga in the opening match of the day.
“We needed to improve our defending. We were executing it pretty well in our first half against American Samoa but we were shaky in the second half. We gave away a lot of simple balls in our defensive third towards the end but we’ve looked at this and patched things up over the past two days,” he said.
“We’ve got a good recovery in and we plan on qualifying for the semi-final after this match against Tonga.”
Recovering from their unfortunate 3-1 loss to Cook Islands, Tonga are still feeling confident in their individual ability but are well aware that their teamwork and combinations will need to see an improvement if they plan on claiming their first points of the competition.
“I know my team are the best individually but they didn’t work together in the last game, especially in the first half,” Tonga coach Lafaele Moala said.
“We’ve been working on improving our passing and also the technique of our goalkeeper – those are the keys areas we hope to improve on against Fiji.
“We’re looking forward to it. It is going to be a tough game but may the best team win.”
In the later match, Cook Islands’ high-pressing game will be crucial against American Samoa to ensure maximum goals – which will be the only way they can overtake Fiji if the Melanesians manage to secure another win.
Cook Islands coach Theresa Tatuava is not underestimating the competition debutants, expecting her side to be tested both physical and mentally by their Polynesian neighbours.
“Us Pacific Islanders, we play physical and it gets tough and tight in there,” she said.
“In our last game we came away with a win but we had to work for it and it wasn’t easy. It wasn’t handed over to us on a silver platter. It was tough. Our girls had to work and we’re still going to have to work harder.”
After their whole-hearted performance against a talented Fiji side first up, American Samoa coach Ruth Tuato’o is still buzzing over her young side’s impressive debut and despite sitting bottom of the table, she’s holding her head high with confidence as American Samoa take the next step in their historic campaign.
“We’ve taken what we learned in our first game and gone back to the drawing board so we’ll see how we go from here,” she said.
“All I can ask is for the girls to go out there and give 110 per cent. We don’t know what we’re going up against but we’re pretty sure they’re a pretty good team.
“Coming out and giving 110 per cent. That’s all we can ask the girls to do.”
Fiji vs Tonga
J.S. Blatter Football Complex
Monday 7 August
Referee: Arnold TARI (VAN)
Assistant Referee 1: Maria SALAMASINA (SAM)
Assistant Referee 2: Heloise SIMONS (NZL)
Fourth Official: Rani PERRY (TAH)
Vital Statistics: After their dominant 4-1 win over American Samoa, Fiji currently sit at the top of Group B on goal differential.
The Players: Viniana Buke dominated the centre of the park in Fiji’s opening match, creating several opportunities for her teammates as well as finding the net once herself. Buke covered a huge amount of ground despite the hot conditions, and will have fresh legs for the match against Tonga after being rested half-way through the second half.
Coach Quote: “We’ve got a good recovery in and we plan on qualifying for the semi-final after this match against Tonga.”
Fiji: 1. Seru VASUITOGA (GK), 2. Avisaki TORO, 3. Viniana BUKE, 4. Sovaia RANADI, 5. Eseta SINUKULA, 6. Amelia CEVARIKI, 7. Tabua LIKUMOTOVAI, 8. Kelera RADINICALIA, 9. Losana BAINIVALU, 10. Fatima TABUANITOGA, 11. Harina ERASITO, 12. Titilia WAQABACA, 13. Emily ROKOCIRI, 14. Alisi QEREQERETABUA, 15. Luisiana LAGILEVU, 16. Dilaisana DRODROLAGI, 17. Vani BAINIVALU, 18. Ulita ALFRED, 19. Filomena RACEA (GK), 20. Raijel PASIRIO (GK)
Coach: Marika RODU (FIJ)
Vital Statistics: Tonga are yet to collect their first points of the competition but with two matches still to play – and two spots available for Group B in the knockout stage – Tonga’s campaign is far from over.
The Players: Ana Polovili was the striking force behind Tonga’s goal in their opening game against Cook Islands, finding the net in the last 10 minutes of play to tighten the scoring margin. The goal followed an impressive build-up from Lositika Feke, who counter attacked down the wing before playing a perfect ball to Polovili as she ran into the box. The two combined well throughout the game, and were unlucky to convert only one goal from their impressive teamwork.
Coach Quote: “We were unlucky not to finish more chances in our last game but we’re still looking forward to our next two games and I’m still proud of what the girls even though we got a loss. There’s still room to improve, maybe the last two games we will make it.”
Tonga: 1. Mele AHOME’E (GK), 2. Ofa FISI, 3. Mele KAFA, 4. Laveni VAKA, 5. Siunipa TALASINGA, 6. Carmel ‘UHILA, 7. Florence HAKALO, 8. Seini LUTU, 9. Ana POLOVILI, 10. Lositika FEKE, 11. Taipaleti VAI, 12. Kaloaine TONGA, 13. Mele TU’ITAVUKI, 14. Malia OTUKOLO, 15. Ofa ATAONGO, 16. Luseane ‘AKOLO, 17. Mafi PASIKALA, 18. Mele ‘AHO, 19. Keleni TAUKAPO (GK), 20. Kaloaine TOPUI (GK)
Coach: Lafaele MOALA (TGA)
American Samoa vs. Cook Islands
J.S. Blatter Football Complex
Monday 7 August
Referee: Fina ANGELO (VAN)
Assistant Referee 1: Malaetala SALANOA (SAM)
Assistant Referee 2: Hilary OSBORN (NZL)
Fourth Official: Ben AUKWAI (SOL)
Vital Statistics: American Samoa are yet to earn their first points of the competition but after finding the net in their opening match, they’re trailing only one goal behind Tonga on the ladder.
The Players: Maricar Parungo had an impressive opening performance, throwing her body on the line countless times to protect Zena Foma’I and the American Samoa goal. Despite being one of the smallest players on the field, she was strong on the ball and quick to close close down many of Fiji’s movements forward.
Coach Quote: “Coming out and giving 110 per cent. That’s all we can ask the girls to do.”
American Samoa: 1. Maraea NAUTU (GK), 2. Maricar PARUNGO, 3. Nancy SATELE, 4. Jane FAUMUINA, 5. Princess FEGAUIA’I, 6. Aileen IEREMIA, 7. Mercy SEIU, 8. Diedra STEFFANY, 9. Blanche HERRERA, 10. Elcy NAOLAVOA, 11. Oloataua TOFAEONO, 12. Agnes SIAOSI, 13. Lima MAUGA, 14. Jodynn LIU-KUEY, 15. Faafeu AMISONE, 16. Olyann TA’ASE, 17. Jessica SATELE, 18. Mykaela PAOLO, 19. Lourdes AFOA, 23. Zena FOMA’I (GK)
Coach: Ruth TUATO’O (ASA)
Vital Statistics: After securing only one win in both the 2012 and 2016 editions of the competition, another win on Monday would make 2017 the most successful OFC U-16 Women’s Championship campaign in Cook Islands’ history.
The Players: Nathalia Viking will be a player for American Samoa to be wary of in their upcoming match after she stunned the crowd at J.S. Blatter Football Complex with two impressive goals in Cook Islands’ opener. After a long-range attempt curved and dropped into goal, Viking wasted no time on celebrations, tapping the ball into the back of the net again only two minutes later.
Coach Quote: “There’s a lot of issues that we’ve had to overcome over the past two days but we’re ready and prepared to meet American Samoa.”
Cook Islands: 1. Dora IRIPA (GK), 2. Lyric DAVISON, 3. Teretia TEINAKI, 4. Ngame TARINGA, 5. Tia TUIVAGA, 6. Esther POTORU, 7. Piri MURARE, 8. Tehinnah TATUAVA, 9. Viorangi KITE, 10. Keana MAAKA, 11. Merran MUNRO, 12. Nathalia VIKING, 13. Tepaeru NGAROI, 14. Eitiare TANGIRERE, 15. Alma NGAMETUA, 16. Ngarangi MAPU
Coach: Theresa TATUAVA (COK)