Hosts New Caledonia and New Zealand have both secured their passage to the knock-out phase of the OFC Futsal Nations Cup with a game to spare while defending champions Solomon Islands have also flexed their muscles on Match day 2 at L’Arena du Sud in Paita.

Group B Solomon Islands 7-2 Tahiti

Following a tense opening between the top two teams in Group B, Solomon Islands captain Elliot Ragomo produced the first attempt on target by forcing a good save from Gerard Tetauira while at the other end Teivarii Kahia and Akareva Riaria kept Anthony Talo busy.

Alvin Hou looked lively, composed and aware during the early exchanges and he got his just reward when he picked out the bottom right corner with a well struck drive at the end of a brilliant solo run to give Kurukuru the lead.

Anthony Talo denied Tahiti an equaliser with a textbook save from Antoine Tave’s 10 metre penalty attempt, before another golden chance went begging for the French Polynesians with the unmarked Raiamanu Tetauira’s volley crashing against the post from close range.

Kurukuru pivot George Stevenson took full advantage of these near misses by finishing a rebound of Tetauira at the opposite end.

The in-form Talo pulled off another class save to frustrate Steeve Wong but Tahitian skipper got his revenge following another 10 metre penalty.

Although Talo had managed to keep out his initial shot, Wong was quick to react to slot home from the rebound.

With less than a second left on the clock Wong stepped up again to the 10 metre spot but this time he only managed to smash the ball against the crossbar.

After the restart, Coleman Makau and Stevenson combined twice allowing the Solomon Islands pivot to complete his hat-trick and giving the defending champions a three-goal cushion.

The Tahitians threw caution to the wind pressing forward but despite coming close to scoring on a number of occasions the class of the Solomon Islanders shown through as they further extended their lead thanks to an own goal by Kaiha and a neat finish from Hou.

To their credit Aioto Arii kept fighting and Riaria did manage to hit the net before Olivier Hirihiri replied to cap his side’s victory.

Kurukuru coach Vinicius Laite believes the margin of his side’s victory didn’t reflect the intensity of the contest accurately.

“It was a very emotional game, beyond being tactical, technical and very physical the boys had to control their emotions, these two nations have a healthy rivalry on the court, always close matches between them and for the first half they have proved that,” he explained.

“We were never comfortable, they were pressing and creating chances, it was a very tense game but in the second half we were able to control our emotions.

“So I’m very pleased with the three points but Tahiti will give the other teams a great run for their money and they remain a strong contender to qualify for the final as well,” Laite added.

Meanwhile  Tahiti assistant coach Heifara Deane refused to look for excuses.

“Solomon Islands are a superior side, they are more physical and they had a much better and more intense preparation than us,” he insisted.

“We knew that Solomon Islands are a great team and hard to defend against but we had the strong desire to test ourselves against them and we maintain that desire for the next match and the rest of the tournament,” said the Tahiti coach.

Tonga 2-9 Fiji

Tournament debutants Tonga showed just how far they have come in such a short period of time by producing a well organised and calm display for the majority of their encounter against group B rivals Fiji

Following a closely contested opening to the match, the Fijians were made to work hard for their lead which came courtesy of Anish Khem.

Playing within their limitations, Manu Tu’alau’s men laboured in defence trying to deny their opponents space in the middle before venturing forward on the counter.

However, they could do little about the quality of Fijian pivot Iosefo Verevou who slotted home to double his side’s advantage before Manasa Levaci added another to take a three goal cushion into the break.

Fiji skipper Setareki Hughes finished from a corner to open the scoring early in the second half, but the men in red rallied to stem the flow.

After absorbing some pressure in front of their goal, the spirited Tongans have created a number of opportunities of their own before being rewarded with a deserved goal thanks to a well struck drive from Laulea Taufa.

The scoreline did blow out in the final minutes as the tiring Tongans shipped five quick goals with Levaci on target followed by a quick brace from Filipe Baravilala, one from Bruce Hughes and another from Tevita Waranaivalu.

However, Manu Tu’alau’s men had the last say with the lively Taufa scoring his and his team’s second to end the contest.

Following last night’s defeat to New Caledonia, Fiji coach Mira Sahib was pleased with the way his players bounced back.

“We came out today to get those three points, the boys played really well today, we played according to our game plan, they kept the intensity high till the end so  and I’m really happy with the performance,” he explained.

Despite the loss Tonga coach Manu Tu’alau could also see plenty of positives in his side’s performance.

“I’m very happy with the team today, we could have done better but the boys were a bit tired from yesterday’s game because we had little time to rest so I’m proud of the boys performance,” he said.

“Our main target is to score a few goals in every game and the boys did that again,” the Tonga coach added.

 New Zealand 8-1 Vanuatu

New Zealand showed their intent from the outset with Dylan Manickum setting up captain Micky Malivuk for the opener quickly followed by a lovely finish from Jordi Ditfort with less than three minutes on the clock.

Sandy Mesau forced a couple of good saves from Ellias Billeh at the other end but the New Zealanders continued to control the tempo of the game with Malivuk adding to his tally before Oban Hawkins netted midway through the first period.

Despite Vanuatu not conceding again in the opening half, the Futsal Whites showed intensity, concentration, speed and accuracy to have every reason to go into the break satisfied with their work.

Vanuatu keeper Anthony Quai produced a string of saves to keep his side in the game at the start of the second half, and his outfield players responded by creating a number of scoring opportunities on the counter to test the New Zealanders.

The Melanesians’ resistance was finally broken by a beautiful goal set up by Stephen Ashby-Peckham and finished off by Brayden Lissington.

Captain and Vanuatu futsal legend Ben Hungai got his side on the scoreboard but his celebration was cut short with the Kiwis scoring three goals in quick succession through Ditfort, Logan Wisnewski and Manickum to cap their win.

Futsal Whites coach Marvin Eakins was delighted with the team’s performance.

“We knew Vanuatu would bounce back from yesterday’s loss and they have. They were much improved in their performance and they challenged us on the counter attack and they defended really well in their half as well, so pretty happy that we were able to break them down with a couple of early goals and continue scoring on a regular basis,” he explained.

Meanwhile Richard Lehi in charge of Vanuatu remained confident his inexperienced side will learn from the defeat.

“We have a very young team compared to an experienced New Zealand team and we have very young players who need more time to reach a certain level we want. Hopefully Vanuatu will come strong in the last game and I think my boys can finish with a win,” he said.

American Samoa 0-9 New Caledonia 

Knowing that victory would secure their spot in the final four alongside New Zealand, Les Cagous were anxious to get off to a flying start but the American Samoans had other ideas.

Keeping their shape and fighting for every ball, the tournament debutants frustrated the hosts during the opening five minutes before succumbing to a penalty converted by New Caledonia  captain Cedrick Humuni.

Veteran keeper Nicky Salapu was in inspired form throughout the encounter but not even he could prevent Jean-Philippe Sele from smashing home for the hosts’ second.

Tunoa Lui’s men battled bravely for the remainder of the opening period to go to the break only two goals behind.

Timothy Delaunay broke American Samoa’s stubborn resistance to give his side some breathing space three minutes intoi the second half.

Sele rattled the crossbar with a powerful freekick before Humuni grabbed his second of the match against the tiring American Samoa defence.

Timothy Delaunay poked home for his side’s fifth, Ferdinand Qenegeie, Axer Xuma and Sele grabbed one each late on while Romain Guitton applied the finishing touch to seal Les Cagous’ victory.

Coach Juliano Schmeling was delighted to have secured their spot in the knock-out stage, but he admitted there is still plenty of work ahead for his players.

“There are still some aspects we need to improve, one of them is finishing but our first objective was to make the semi-finals, so this is the first step and now we have to concentrate on a big match against New Zealand tomorrow,” he said.

Meanwhile Tunoa Lui heaped praise on his players’ fighting spirit.

“I’m proud of them, they are fighters, they didn’t go down , they tried their best and it’s a learning experience for them. We played well in the first half, fatigue came into it towards the end,” the American Samoa coach explained.

Upcoming Matches

Following their defeat to the Solomon Islands, Tahiti will be looking to bounce back at the expense of Group B rivals Tonga to kick off the action on Match Day 3.

In Group A, Vanuatu and American Samoa will both be playing for pride in Wednesday’s second encounter, before the attention turns back to Group B with Fiji needing to upset the Solomon Islands  in order to keep their faint championship hopes alive.

With their passage into the semis already secure, New Zealand and New Caledonia will battle for Group A supremacy to conclude the day and the group stages.

Group B
Wednesday, 30 October
Arena du Sud, Paita, New Caledonia
KO: 13:00 (local)

Group B
Wednesday, 30 October
Arena du Sud, Paita, New Caledonia
KO: 15:00 (local)

Group A
Wednesday, 30 October
Arena du Sud, Paita, New Caledonia
KO: 17:00 (local)

Group A
Wednesday, 30, October
Arena du Sud, Paita, New Caledonia
KO: 19:00 (local)