After notching decent wins in their respective opening matches, Solomon Islands and Fiji have a chance to make a claim for Group B supremacy on Thursday when they meet at Stade Pater for their second match of the OFC U-19 Championship.
Meanwhile neighbours Vanuatu and New Caledonia will be out to get their campaigns back on track after stumbling at the first hurdle on Monday.
Solomon Islands proved they are a side on a mission coming back to claim a 3-2 win over New Caledonia after falling behind to an early penalty goal.
Coach Batram Suri said the ability of his side to rally together and keep pushing for the result they wanted showed the mentality of these players.
“They did well. We equalised and then went again and again to get what we needed from the game. The boys worked for each other on the field,” he said.
Looking ahead he knows playing Fiji will require a different approach, however he is confident in his squad’s ability to step up to the challenge.
“I think Fijians are strong and physical but we have to be too if we want to win the game,” the former Solomon Islands international said.
“We have to challenge them in every area and I’m looking forward to playing against Fiji in our second match.”
Like Solomon Islands, Monday was a successful evening of football for the Fijians.
Earning the three points in their opening match was the dream start coach Bal Reddy and his management team, including national team coach Christophe Gamel, were hoping for.
“It’s also a very sweet victory for us because in the last two World Cup qualifiers Vanuatu defeated us so it’s a good win for us,” Reddy said of his charges’ 3-1 opening victory.
Reddy said the team executed the game plan to near-perfection and he’s hoping a similar performance will be forthcoming against the Solomon Islands.
“Our plan was to get the quick press done, press high, and I think that worked. I think the second phase of our play went exceptionally well too.
“We’re here for a mission and we will continue to take it one game at a time.
“I know Solomons will be gearing up for another three points and we are also there for the three points. We need to get the composure and get the boys back to the level where they’re supposed to be – flying high.
“We cannot take Solomon Islands lightly because they are a very good side.”
After being denied any points in their first round of matches, when New Caledonia and Vanuatu meet on Thursday it will be with a massive desire to right the ship and get their respective campaigns back on course.
New Caledonia started well and appeared to have the game in hand after converting an early penalty against Solomon Islands. However through the middle third of the match the OFC U-17 World Cup attendees struggled against their Hapi Isles opponents.
Despite losing concentration and not only allowing their opponent to equalise, but then take a two goal lead, New Caledonia finished strong with captain Cyril Drawilo and his Mont-Dore teammate Titouan Richard proving a formidable duo.
Whether first choice goalkeeper Christophe Yeiwene is capable of starting is still a question mark for coach Felix Tagawa after he was taken off with a suspected concussion against Solomon Islands.
Having witnessed plenty of positives from his side’s performance, among some areas that require some finessing, Tagawa believes his side can get a result against Vanuatu.
“It was a tough match but it’s not over,” he said.
“We have come into this competition and shown a different side of ourselves and now we need to continue.
“We need to recuperate, let go a little – but not too much – and start preparing for the next one.”
Vanuatu also put forward a performance with plenty of positives for coach Kaison Maki to work with, but the errors outnumbered them in game one which is something he’ll be looking at ahead of meeting New Caledonia.
“We were a bit slow to respond to Fiji, it just didn’t happen. The boys started to get into the game at the end of the second half but it was too late,” he rued.
“For Thursday, both teams lost their games so both will want to win.
“New Caledonia is probably a more experienced team because they did qualify for the U-17 World Cup, so we have respect for them.
“But we have to take our team and our approach because we still need the three points.”
Although all Group B matches were originally scheduled to take place at Stade Fautaua, a decision taken by the OFC Competition Department has seen the remaining matches in this group moved to Stade Pater. For further explanation on the move click here.
Solomon Islands vs. Fiji
Thursday 9 August
Stade Pater, Tahiti
Kick-off: 15h00 local (Tuesday 7 August 14h – TGA / 11h PNG / 12h VAN & NCL / 13h FIJ & NZL)
Referee: David YAREBOINEN (PNG)
Assistant Referee 1: Folio MOEAKI (TGA)
Assistant Referee 2: John PAREANGA (COK)
Fourth Official: Nick WALDRON (NZL)
Solomon Islands: 1. Joel NANAGO (GK), 2. George LEAGA, 3. John AETA, 4. Aengari GAGAME, 5. Absolom WAWANE, 6. Patrick TAROGA, 7. Junior DAVID, 8. Henly RAMO, 9. Ali MEKAWIR, 10. Marcus CHAN, 11. Lino HOUAIRIA, 12. Junior MATA (GK), 13. Junior ASHLEY, 14. Franck KABUI, 15. Anthony KASAU, 16. Don KEANA, 17. Tuita MAEOBIA, 18. William KOMASI, 19. Simon JEDZINI, 20. Raynick LAETA
Coach: Batram SURI (SOL)
Fiji: 1. Mohammed ALAM (GK), 2. Mohammed RASASA, 3. Semi MATALAU, 4. Apisai SESEWA, 5. Sekove NAIVAKANANUMI, 6. Mohammed NAIZAL, 7. Phillip LEONG, 8. Joeli RANITU, 9. Merril NAND, 10. Mohammed KHAN, 12. Kishan SAMI, 13. Savenaca BALEDROKROKA, 14. Tito VODOWAQA, 15. Iliesa RAKUKA, 16. Ratu DAU, 17. Shivam NAIDU, 18. Isake NADUVU, 19. Peni TUIGULAGULA, 20. Asaeli BATIKASA (GK)
Coach : Bal REDDY (FIJ)
New Caledonia vs. Vanuatu
Wednesday 8 August
Stade Pater, Tahiti
Kick-off: 18h00 local (Tuesday 7 August – 14h PNG / 15h VAN, SOL & NCL / 16h FIJ & NZL / 17h TGA)
Referee: Kader ZITOUNI (TAH)
Assistant Referee 1: Sione TEU (TGA)
Assistant Referee 2: Pari OITO (TAH)
Fourth Official: Campbell-Kirk WAUGH (NZL)
New Caledonia: 1. Une KECINE (GK), 2. Martin MAKAM, 4. Jean-Baptiste CAROINE, 5. Jules OMEI, 6. Kiam WANESSE, 7. Titouan RICHARD, 8. Cyril DRAWILO, 9. Jean-Jacques KATRAWA, 10. Pierre BAKO, 11. Vita LONGUE, 12. Armand HARPER, 13. Pierre WAWIA, 14. Paul GOPE-FENEPEJ, 15. Neil WAHIOBE, 16. Leonard MAKALU, 17. Georges WAKANAMUNE, 18. Raoul WENISSO, 19. Josua HLEMU, 20. Christopher YEIWENE (GK), 21. Lucas BITAUD
Coach : Felix TAGAWA (NCL)
Vanuatu: 1. Dgen LEO (GK), 2. Tarilolo HINGE, 3. Lorenzo OBED, 4. Junior BULE, 5. Julio VAHIRUA, 6/ Tom SAKSAK, 7. Jordy TASIP, 8. Presley ALICK, 9. Jean-Claude BATICK, 10. Micah TOMMY, 11. Jayson TARI, 12. Nelsin RAWOR, 13. Brian TARI, 14. Abert VANVA, 15. Rhydley NAPAU, 16. Jack WILLIE, 17. Zidane MAGUEKON, 18. Anthony PELI, 19. Waiwo KALMET, 20. Joshua WILLIE (GK)
Coach: Kaison MAKI (VAN)