New Caledonia and Solomon Islands will meet in a rematch of their opening group game at the OFC U-19 Championship when they come together for the Third Place Play-off at Stade Pater tomorrow.
Both Melanesian countries missed out on qualification to the FIFA U-20 World Cup following narrow defeats in the semi-finals against New Zealand and Tahiti.
The Francophones came incredibly close to causing an upset over New Zealand only for two second half goals to the defending champions ruin their hopes of two consecutive world cups after their U-17 debut last year.
Solomon Islands will be aiming to bounce back from their 3-1 defeat to Tahiti in the second semi-final after yet another semi-final elimination at regional level.
After topping a difficult group, Solomon Islands were expected to give Tahiti a good challenge, and they did in the first half. However after conceding their first goal they started to fade in the second half, something they can’t do against New Caledonia if they want to get their hands on some silverware.
New Caledonia’s opening 3-2 loss to Solomon Islands was the first quite far from where Felix Tagawa’s side wanted to be as they opened their campaign. However they came back strong for their second encounter notching an 8-1 win over Vanuatu.
That second match really helped when they drew their final group game against Fiji as it lifted them above their opponent when it came to the standings.
Although still hugely disappointed by the result of their semi-final, Tagawa and his charges will give their all to prove they are a group worthy of a podium finish.
“We’re still hurting from the loss to New Zealand,” Tagawa said.
“But we’re determined to finish the competition on a high nonetheless, and being able to get our revenge for the opening loss is one way to do that.”
Solomon Islands coach Batram Suri said although there is no longer tickets to Poland up for grabs, his side will still put up a strong challenge in the name of national pride.
“We have to play for our pride since the competition is not over and it is good for us to finish strongly,” he said.
“New Caledonia gave us a tough test in the opening match of the tournament and we are expecting another difficult game, but the boys will be going into the match with a strong mentality to compete.”
Third Place Play-Off
New Caledonia vs. Solomon Islands
Friday 17 August
Stade Pater, Tahiti
Kick-off: 18h00 local (Saturday 18 August – 15h SOL & NCL / 16h NZL)
Referee: Nick WALDRON (NZL)
Assistant Referee 1: John PAREANGA (COK)
Assistant Referee 2: Sione TEU (TGA)
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, 15. Neil WAHIOBE, 16. Leonard MAKALU, 17. Georges WAKANAMUNE, 18. Raoul WENISSO, 19. Josua HLEMU, 20. Christopher YEIWENE (GK), 21. Lucas BITAUD
Suspended: 14. Paul GOPE-FENEPEJ
Coach : Felix TAGAWA (NCL)
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)