Photo Credit: OFC Media via Tonga FA

Tonga is off to a winning start at their home tournament, securing a 3-0 victory over American Samoa at the OFC U-16 Men’s Championship 2024 – Qualifying.

After the Solomon Islands spectacular victory against Papua New Guinea in the days earlier match, the hosts Tonga followed a similar script at least to start their match, scoring inside five minutes.

Out of nothing, Tevita Falepapalangi added his name on the score sheet. The Tongan attacker chased a ball down into the box, which American Samoa goalkeeper Alvin Talataiga failed to pick it up, allowing Falepapalangi to poach the ball and score.

Tonga’s tails were up, and the chances started to come thick and fast. Speedy winger Talaiasi Faluku used his pace to break into the box twice in five minutes, but he couldn’t convert on both occasions.

American Samoa then settled into the match, as they started to defend in unison, ensuring they kept the hosts lightening quick attack at bay. Larry Faaoga, a standout at the heart of his team’s defence.

The energy in the second half certainly didn’t match the first, as both teams turned to substitutions after the 50-minute mark, to inject life back into their side. And it worked, a poor clearance at the back by American Samoa put Tonga on attack. Siaki Lonitenisi then delivered a beautiful low cross, across the face of the goal, that was met by substitute Tupou Havea at the back post.

As the intensity increased on the pitch, so did the opportunities, goal scorer Havea sent a ball in behind that Falepapalangi latched on to. Beating the remaining defender, but his heavy touch put the ball in the path of a flying Faluku, who tapped the ball into an empty net to make it 3-0 after 69 minutes.

The hosts remained in control for the rest of the match continually applying pressure on the American Samoa defence. But as hard as they tried, Tonga were unable to extend their advantage, settling for a deserved 3-0 victory.

It sets up an intriguing encounter on Tuesday at Teufaiva Stadium, with Tonga set to clash with the Solomon Islands, while American Samoa will take on Papua New Guinea.

American Samoa: 0 ()

Tonga: 3 (Tevita FALEPAPALANGI 5’, Tupou HAVEA 59’, Talaiasi FALUKU 69’)

HT: 0-1