Photo Credit: Phototek via OFC Media

Hosts Samoa have called for the locals to turn out in numbers to support their quest to qualify for the final of the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament – Oceania Qualifier in Apia tomorrow.

Juan Chang Urrea’s side face the Solomon Islands in the first of the semi-finals at 1pm (Samoa time). Samoa qualified for the last four on the back of an impressive 2-0 win over Tonga, while Batram Suri’s Solomon Islands side were equally impressive in beating Fiji 3-1 to top Group A.

The second semi-final kicking off at 5pm (Samoa time) features Jitka Klimková’s New Zealand against Angeline Chua’s Fiji. New Zealand coasted through the group stage, scoring 14 goals in three matches without reply but will however will be without the services of Macey Fraser, after being concussed in the win over Vanuatu.

New Zealand will be strong favourites against a young Fijian side who impressed against American Samoa and Papua New Guinea, but finished with a flat performance against the Solomon Islands.

OFC Media chatted to representatives of the four semi-finalists to gauge their thoughts ahead of the semis.

Juan Chang Urrea – Head Coach Samoa

“Making it into the top four is obviously the first target for every team and we are super proud of the girls, and they adapted to the circumstances and overcame. The Solomon Islands are a very strong team we watched them played at home at the Pacific Games. We understand they are a really fast team and it’s going to be a challenge. But we are focusing more on our team and what we can bring.”

On the Key to Winning

“Creating chances is the number one thing, we have to focus more on the finishing but that will come if we do the little things first like the movement, the crossing, and the positioning and then the finishing will come.

The Home Crowd

“My clear message for everyone is to come and support the girls. They are representing the country really well. The top four in the whole Oceania is really hard but can they bring that 12th player rooting for us from the stands because we need it. We do feel the support and love from everyone. I just want to make a huge invitation for everyone here in Samoa to come and support us and hopefully we have an awesome turnout.”

Claudia Votu – Solomon Islands defender

“Well, we are confident enough and looking forward to the semis. We will be playing against Samoa, and it is their home ground. They will have much support but as a team, we will work together and focus. We are believing in ourselves and trusting each other. The key thing is we will always support each other.”

On the inspiration that is captain Ileen Pegi.

“I look up to her, she is my role model and she never gives up despite having had so many injuries and pain.”

On possibly playing for a place at the Paris Olympics?

“Wow, it would mean the world and would be a dream come true for all of us.”

 Rebekah Stott – New Zealand defender

On the standard of the Pacific Islands teams

It’s definitely improved a lot. I think I played the Oceania teams maybe six years ago and they’ve definitely progressed and some of them go into a low block which makes it hard to break down. But the players are getting a lot better, so it makes it a good competition.

Thoughts on Fiji

“The Fijians are a good team, and I am sure they can score lots of goals, so we are going to have to be really careful defensively.”

On possibly making it to a third Olympic Games

“It would be incredible I remember my first major tournament was the London Olympics and it was the just the most amazing best experience I have ever had so to be able to get back and qualify for another Olympics would mean the world to me and the team.”

Angeline Rekha – Fiji defender

How do you approach the match?

“We do believe we can upset them. In our pool we played against PNG, one of the toughest teams and we played well. Obviously, they are one of the favourites, they have won six times now and we are just looking forward to playing against them.”

Familiarity with opponents

“I had trials with the Wellington Phoenix, I know some of the players and have seen them play. I know what to expect.”

What would it mean to make the final?

“Right now I am just looking forward to playing against New Zealand but if we do make the final, it’s a huge thing for us because playing at the Olympics is such a big deal.”


Watch both Semi-Final matches LIVE and FREE on FIFA+

Match Day 4
Friday, February 16

Semi-Final 1, 1:00pm
Solomon Islands v Samoa | WATCH LIVE

Semi-Final 2, 5:00pm
New Zealand v Fiji | WATCH LIVE