A dominant second half has seen New Caledonia beat American Samoa 7-0 in their OFC U17 Championship Group B match at the Fiji Football Academy in Ba.
Only one change was made to the American Samoa side that lost 11-0 to New Zealand in their first game, with Elson Utoaluga starting. However, New Caledonia rung the changes, with eight new starters coming in after their impressive 3-2 loss to the same opponent.
It didn’t take the New Caledonians long to strike, going up 1-0 after a nice cross by Ronald Ngayane found captain Nohan Alebate at the far post to drive home.
While that one beat American Samoa goalkeeper Alex Mae’e, he was in fine form thereafter. A shot not long after by Jean-Yves Saiko was well saved, then another chance by Alebate after a beautiful ball by Saiko drew a diving scramble by Mae’e. But Saiko wasn’t done, blasting a curling shot from outside the box that Mae’e dived and held onto.
Meanwhile, up the other end American Samoa had a great opportunity off a free kick by captain John Collins that fell at the feet of Ben Tofaeono. He was through on goal but his shot from a handy angle missed. After 23 minutes they were awarded another free kick, this time Collins took the direct route and almost scored, his shot ricocheting down off the crossbar and almost crossing the line.
It took a penalty for New Caledonia to swing the momentum. Defender Robert Coulter was unlucky to concede a handball in his own area, again Mae’e did well to get a hand on Anthony Levy’s shot but couldn’t stop it going in.
Saiko was again a dominant force down the right wing, finding plenty of space to feed into the box. But his heroics were matched by Mae’e, who made another series of impressive saves as the clock ticked towards halftime. The two came face to face after a breakaway by Saiko, but Mae’e’s charge meant the shot was pushed wide.
New Caledonia came out on the attack after halftime and it didn’t take them long to extend the lead, with a powerful right footed shot by Simon Ue finally slipping through Mae’e’s grasp. From then on, the tide had definitely turned, as David Cahma smashed home New Caledonia’s fourth after a good pass across the face of the goal by Levy.
Only five minutes later Saiko was rewarded for his hard work, finally getting a shot past the brave Ma’ae to make the lead five. After another five minutes substitute Sipane Qaeze added another after a corner kick, but then followed it up with the goal of the match only two minutes later. After the ball came into the area and was knocked down to him, Qaeze ripped a powerful volley to the top corner of the goal.
To American Samoa’s credit, they managed to keep the New Caledonians from scoring for the remaining 20 minutes.
New Caledonia coach Leonardo Lopez will be pleased at the spread of goals, especially in the second half. The American Samoans cannot be faulted for their courage in the first half, especially that of the very busy Mae’e. But ultimately, they were undone by an opponent that simply stepped up a gear when needed.
That completes the action in Group B, with New Zealand finishing top on six points, with New Caledonia on three and both through to the quarterfinals. For American Samoa, they will be watching on with interest, as their slim hopes of staying in the tournament rely on either the Cook Islands or Tonga suffering heavy losses in the last two group games.
NEW CALEDONIA 7 (Nolhann ALEBATE 4’, Anthony LEVY 27’ pen, Simon UE 50’, David CAHMA 58’, Jean-Yves SAIKO 63’, Sipan QAEZE 68’, 70’)
AMERICAN SAMOA 0
— OFC Oceania Football (@OFCfootball) January 17, 2023