Oceania Football Confederation > News > News > Kurukuru and Futsal Whites set up title decider

Kurukuru and Futsal Whites set up title decider

New Zealand's Oban Hawkins celebrates against Tahiti (Phototek)

Defending champions Solomon Islands and New Zealand will meet in Saturday’s blockbuster final at the OFC Futsal Nations Cup 2019 tournament to decide which nation will represent  Oceania at next year’s FIFA Futsal World Cup in Lithuania.

Solomon Islands 5-1 New Caledonia

Solomon Islands title defence remains on track following a professional display against the hosts in Friday’s first semi-final at Paita’s Arena du Sud.

Kurukuru coach Vinicius Laite couldn’t have asked for a better start from his players with Elis Mana creating an early opening with a pinpoint pass to George Stevenson who calmly slotted in at the back post.

Marcel Hnepeune came close to an equaliser with a powerful long range strike that rattled the crossbar while Ronan Euzen produced a double save from Arnold Maeluma at the other end.

Both keepers were called into action on a number of occasions throughout the fast-paced encounter which produced thrilling end-to-end action.

With just over five minutes on the clock in the opening period, Jeffery Bule picked out Charlie Otainano who didn’t make a mistake from close range.

Marshalled from the back by the hugely experienced James Egeta the Solomon Islanders closed out the remainder of the first half with ease to take a two goal lead into the break.

Stevenson finished with a superb back-hill following a classy diagonal pass from Egata as the Kurukuru extended their lead after the restart.

Les Cagous pressed high searching for a way back with Ferdinand Qenegeie, Christ Pei, Hnepeune and skipper Cedrick Humuni all presented with a chance to pull a goal back before Jean-Philippe Sele finally found a way through to the delight of the large and vocal home crowd.

Opportunities kept coming at both ends and with time running out New Caledonia coach Juliano Schmeling has opted for a powerplay using a flying keeper.

With just a minute on the clock Les Cagous won a 10-metre penalty but Quenegei‘s conversion attempt crashed against the post while Arlon Sia took full advantage on the counter attack with a quick double to keep the defending champions’ quest for a fourth consecutive FIFA Futsal World Cup well and truly alive.

Following the win Kurukuru coach Vicius Laite paid tribute to the hosts.

“Despite the score being 5-1, it was always a close match,” he said.

“New Caledonia is coached by Juliano, he is a great friend of mine and we’ve worked together in 2016, I’ve learned a lot from him, he was the one to give me the opportunity to get involved with the Kurukuru, he is the one responsible to get them to a very high level and I’m continuing that work and I feel bad that we’ve met in the semi-final but that’s how life goes,” Laite explained.

“They put up an intense fight against us, we were never relaxed, we were always on our toes, and anybody could have won this game.

“All credit to my players as well, they’ve been doing a fantastic job technically, tactically, physically but most importantly mentally, keeping that emotional control throughout their games, so I’m very pleased to be in that final and we are fully prepared.” added the Solomon Islands coach.

Juliano Schmeling, who has only been in charge of the Les Cagous for six weeks, was pleased with the progression of his team despite the defeat.

“We made too many mistakes but we knew we were playing against a quality team with three word cups behind them,” he said,

“We created chances, they created chances and they scored while we didn’t score, we got punished by the top team in Oceania, but I’m happy with New Caledonia’s performance,  I think they are improved a lot but we have to move on,” he added.

New Zealand 3-2 Tahiti

Meanwhile the Futsal Whites produced a stunning second half come back to edge past Tahiti and keep their maiden FIFA Futsal World Cup dream alive.

Aito Arii started with plenty of intensity racing to a two goal lead inside the opening five minutes on the back of some clinical counterattacking futsal.

Raiamanu Tetauira opened the scoring with a well-struck drive which hit the roof of the net before Teavarii Kaiha calmly poked home to double his side’s advantage.

And it could have been worse for the Futsal Whites who were lucky to be let off the hook when Teiki Tanata’s attempt was denied by the post.

The Kiwis lacked rhythm and struggled against the Tahitian man to man marking and their speedy transition in defence.

The half-time break couldn’t come soon enough for the New Zealanders who returned to the court a different outfit after the interval.

With Dylan Manickum pulling the string the Futsal Whites turned the match around with three quick-fire goals during a frantic two-minute period.

Oban Hawkins started the come-back followed by Stephen Ashby-Packham’s equaliser before Hawkins grabbed his second and his side’s third against the shell-shocked French Polynesians.

Tahiti did produce a number of opportunities to level the scores in a tense finale to the match but the New Zealanders held their nerves to hang onto their slim advantage and keep their championship campaign on track.

Coach Marvin Eakins was delighted with his team’s achievement.

“Against Tahiti it’s always a great game, they are real competitors and I’m just grateful we came out on top of that one because it could have gone either way and we have been on the wrong side of that in the past,” he explained.

“We expected a tough match, Tahiti brought that and more and we showed what we can do, even when we went one goal down, two goals down we had the ability to come back.

“We’ve put in a lot of hard work behind the scenes leading into this and we had to trust in what we have been doing, Tahiti made it difficult, they made it hard for us, they made us nervous, they made us panic at times and we had to remind ourselves that we can do this.

“The Solomons want this, we want this and the Solomons are a great team, they are going to be tough to beat, they had a great preparation, they have a great coach, unbelievable players with experience at world cups over and over, so we have to rise to their level and  then we have to show that we can beat them playing our style while try to manage how they play, so I’m looking forward to it,” the Futsal whites coach said.

Meanwhile Tahiti coach Heifara Deane couldn’t hide his disappointment with the second-half performance of his team.

“It’s very frustrating that we let a two goal lead slip, and especially that we conceded three goals in a such a short period of time, he said.

“It’s not a good feeling that we couldn’t achieve our goal but New Zealand was better tonight, however we have learned a lot from this tournament.

“We are Tahitians and happy to return home but now we have to wait four more years to get another chance,” The Aito Arii coach added.

Elsewhere, Vanuatu and Fiji will meet in the 5th place play-off after play-off for following the Fijians’ victory over American Samoa in their 5th to 8th place play-off, while the match between Vanuatu and Tonga was cancelled due to medical reasons in the Tonga camp.

Fiji 6-2 American Samoa

During an evenly contested and combative start to the match Fiji created the better chances but the American Samoans held firm to keep the scores level until the 15th minute.

Iosefo Verevou’s long range effort was deflected by Austin Kaleopa into his own net for the opener but there was nothing fortuitous about Fiji’s second with Verevou finishing a decisive pass from Shahil Dave.

Kaleopa, one of the rising stars of the tournament poked home for a much deserved goal to narrow the gap to just one at the break.

Fiji resorted their two goal advantage early in the second half with the help of another own goal, this time by Chris Faamoana.

Following a goalmouth scramble Dave tapped into the empty for the Fijians’ fourth before Verevou smashing home with a well-struck low drive.

Filipe Baravilala added another but American Samoa had the last say when Ueli Tualaulelei rose to head home his keeper Nicky Salapu’s freekick.

Fiji coach Mira Sahib was satisfied with the result which sealed his side’s spot in Saturday’s play-off for 5th place, however he wasn’t entirely happy with his team’s display.

“The performance of the payers was questionable, today they didn’t play according to what we told them before the game. But anyway the result was in our favour and we are looking forward to our next match tomorrow, he said.

Meanwhile Tunoa Lui was delighted with his players’ progression throughout the tournament.

“Coming into this match, we’ve known that Fiji have been preparing for a while and we knew that Fiji was one of the strongest teams in this tournament, but for me as a coach I can see that the way my boys have played today, they have improved from day one to this game today,” the proud American coach explained.

Vanuatu vs Tonga – abandoned

Due to medical reasons Tonga were unable to play in today’s encounter and their play-off match against Vanuatu was abandoned

Vanuatu progressed to the 5th/6th play-off by default.

Upcoming Matches

TONGA vs AMERICAN SAMOA

7th/8th Place Play-Off match has been cancelled.

5th/6th Place Play-Off
VANUATU vs FIJI
Saturday, 2 November
Arena du Sud, Paita, New Caledonia
KO: 14:00 (local)
LIVE STREAM https://bit.ly/2MZXxW1
#OFCFNC  #VANFIJ

3rd/4th Play-Off
NEW CALEDONIA vs TAHITI
Saturday, 2 November
Arena du Sud, Paita, New Caledonia
KO: 16:30 (local)
LIVE STREAM https://bit.ly/36m5s7O
#OFCFNC  #NCLTAH

FINAL
SOLOMON ISLANDS vs NEW ZEALAND
Saturday, 2 November
Arena du Sud, Paita, New Caledonia
KO: 19:00 (local)
LIVE STREAM https://bit.ly/2qVtAhe
#OFCFNC  #NZLTAH

Ends

 

 

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