It’s going to be close but there remains a mathematical chance for New Caledonia, Tahiti and Samoa to exit Group A alongside Papua New Guinea in the direction of the OFC Women’s Nations Cup semi-finals.
Papua New Guinea secured the place in the semi-finals with a comprehensive 6-2 victory over New Caledonia on Match Day 2, but their final encounter of the group will be against a Tahiti side that has shown great technique and a fighting spirit in their matches so far.
Senior women’s football had taken a seven-year hiatus but what has been evident in the performances of the Vahine Ura this far is that is not for a lack of wanting.
While Tahiti have assembled a young squad, with the senior players it’s a side which possesses talent, technique and game understanding, which hasn’t gone unnoticed.
They’ll need all that nous coming into their final group game against current table toppers Papua New Guinea if they are to realise their objective of acquiring a semi-final berth.
“There’s only one match left for us and I hope we haven’t missed out on qualifying because we want to be there at the end,” coach Stephanie Spielmann said.
“We’re in a different position than we had hoped because we really needed to win the match against Samoa. But ultimately, we have put ourselves in this situation because we knew we’d be in trouble if we didn’t win.
“The match shouldn’t have ended 5-5 but that’s in the past and we have to leave it there and focus on our remaining group match.”
However, despite being comfortably through to the semi-finals Papua New Guinea isn’t a side that likes to turn the tempo down for anyone and they’ll be giving their all against the Tahitians to secure top of the group.
Having witnessed the speed and ability to dissect the Samoan and New Caledonian defences already Tahiti knows they’re in for a challenge against Peter Gunemba’s side.
And although they have two comfortable wins under their belts already there won’t any complacency on Gunemba’s part, and he expects the same from his highly capable players.
“We’ll be going out at full strength. We cannot underestimate anyone in our Pacific region,” he said.
“I cannot underestimate and play a second best because anything can happen. If the girls manage to get a couple of goals we can look at making some changes.”
In the remaining match it will be all or nothing for New Caledonia as they need to win to ensure passage to a semi-final they’re desperate to feature in on home soil.
However after seeing Samoa’s performance against Tahiti there’s an air of concern within the Caledonian camp who know they’ll be staring down an opponent which will leave everything on the pitch in pursuit of their objective.
“The sole objective for us now is to win the game against the Samoans,” coach Kamali Fitialeata said.
“There’s no need for a calculator. We have to win all our remaining matches from now on – that’s it.”
For Samoa’s Nicola Demaine the calculator will be out as they possess a mathematical chance of progressing if they can get the result they desire.
“Mathematically it’s potentially still a chance for us to go through, so we’ll focus on that,” she said.
Papua New Guinea vs. Tahiti
Saturday 24 November
Koné, New Calédonia
Referee: Torika DELAI (FIJ)
Assistant Referee 1: Lonisa DILLIONI (FIJ)
Assistant Referee 2: Nicola HOLIKA (TGA)
Fourth Official: Nadia BROWNING (NZL)
In three previous meetings, Tahiti are yet to beat their Melanesian opponents.
2003 – Papua New Guinea 3-0 Tahiti
2007 – Papua New Guinea 5-0 Tahiti (Semi-Final)
2011 – Papua New Guinea 1-0 Tahiti
Papua New Guinea: 1. Betty SAM (GK), Rita MAYANG, 3. Merolyn SALI, 4. Judith GUNEMBA, 5. Olivia UPAUPA, 6. Yvonne GABONG, 7. Stephanie GANI, 8. Sandra BIRUM, 9. Margaret JOSEPH, 10. Rayleen BAUELUA, 11. Selina UNAMBA, 12. Meagan GUNEMBA, 13. Ramona PADIO, 14. Cynthia PULOU, 15. Georgina BAKANI, 16. Marie KAIPU, 17. Eunice NABALU, 18. Theresah BOIE, 19. Elizabeth ELIZAH, 20. Faith KASIRAY (GK), 21. Fidorah NAMUESH
Coach: Peter GUNEMBA (PNG)
Tahiti:1. Corail HARRY (GK), 2. Mihitua TIHONI, 3. Hana KIMITETE, 4. Joelle TEPEA, 6. Maite TEIKIAVAITOUA, 7. Teatarii MARAETEFAU, 8. Lanihei RUA, 9. Heimiri ALVAREZ, 10. Tiare TEKAKIOTERAGI, 11. Tahia TAMARII, 12. Vahuariki TUFAU, 13. Hanihei TAUMAA, 14. Hitiana LONG TANG, 15. Raihei TETAURU, 16. Vahinerii PURAGA (GK), 17. Kiani WONG, 18. Heidy MARAE, 19. Carole TEOTAHI, 20. Ninauea HIOE
Coach: Stéphanie SPIELMANN (TAH)
New Caledonia vs. Samoa
Saturday 24 November
Koné, New Calédonia
Referee: Ben AUKWAI (SOL)
Assistant Referee 1: Lata KAUMATULE (TGA)
Assistant Referee 2: Heloise SIMONS (NZL)
Fourth Official: Tapaita LELENGA (TGA)
There are only two meetings between these sides with Samoa leading the head-to-head with a win and a draw.
2007 – New Caledonia 0-2 Samoa
2015 – New Caledonia 2-2 Samoa
New Caledonia: 1. Lorenza HNAMANO (GK), 2. Josiane AYAWA, 3. Moisette BROUSTET, 4. Claire KAEMO, 5. Glenda JAINE, 6. Marilyse LOLO, 7. Cassidy CAWA, 8. Kamene XOWIE, 9. Jackie PAHOA, 10. Aurélie LALIE, 11. Kim MAGUIRE, 12. Bernadette EURIBEARI, 13. Madeleine JAINE, 14. Kathleen NEMOUARE, 15. Darnelle HACE, 16. Ivonne XOWI, 17. Shaya IHMELING, 18. Sydney GATHA, 19. Ami-Nata AJAPUHNYA, 20. Dolores BODEOUAROU (GK), 21. Céline XOLAWAWA, 22. Cinthia PAITA, 23. Dominique NEXON
Coach: Kamali FITIALEATA (NCL)
Samoa: 1. Ronisa LIPI (GK), 2. Moreva MAMEA, 3. Lynetta LAUMEA-EDWARD, 4. Sina SATARAKA, 5. Mariah BULLOCK, 6. Melesete AIA, 7. Semeatu LEMANA, 8. Carline SCANLAN, 9. Shontelle STEVENS, 10. Madeleen AH KI, 11. Mariecamilla AH KI, 12. Lopamaua AH SAM, 14. Matalena DANIELLS, 15. Mole SAOFAIGA, 16. Paepae TUITAMA, 17. Tiare TUIMAVAVE, 18. Hana MALO, 20. Meripa SEUMANUTAFA (GK), 23. Jecky TOMA (GK)
Coach: Nicola DEMAINE (ENG)