Photo Credit: OFC Media via Phototek
Defending champions Tahiti have withstood a ferocious challenge from the Solomon Islands, coming from behind to win 10-3 on day two of the OFC Beach Soccer Nations Cup in Papeete.
While the final score reads a easy Tahiti victory, it was anything but. The Solomon Islands arrived in Tahiti determined to knock the ‘Tiki Toa’ off their perch and early on they matched the two times FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup finalists.
It was a frantic start and the Bilikiki took the lead in the 3rd minute with a superb shot across the goal from Thomas Amasia.
From a free kick the Solomons then forced former world goalkeeper of the year Jonathan Torohia into making a terrific save and Torohia was at it again in the 8th minute to deny Robert Laua.
You need to take your chances against a team like Tahiti and the hosts levelled almost immediately through Heirauarii Salem. Teaonui Tehau fired the home team in front to rapturous applause from the near capacity crowd with a spectacular bicycle kick past a despairing Solomons goalkeeper James Do’oro. Tahiti took a narrow 2-1 lead into the break.
The frenetic pace continued in the opening stanza of the second period and Laua had a couple of chances to level the scores but couldn’t produce powerful enough efforts to beat Torohia when with clear openings on goal.
Tahiti made no mistake with their first real chance of the second spell when Patrick Tepa volleyed home after some intricate aerial play. Tamatoa Tetauira added a fourth to put the hosts in control after two periods.
Salem scored his second almost immediately after the restart, heading a shot from captain Raimana Le Fung Kuee into the net to effectively make the game safe for Tahiti. Li Fung Kuee then got in on the action a minute later with a stinging left foot shot. Heiarii Tavanae added a 7th for Tahiti before a spectacular bicycle kick from Roonui Tinirauarii made it eight.
A minute later Max Fa’ari pulled one back for the Solomon Islands but their defence was lacking when Tetauira scored his second a minute later. Amasia got a second goal for the Solomon Islands before being sent off after a dangerous collision with replacement Tahiti goalkeeper Teave Teamotuaitau. And with the final kick of the game Salem scored his hat-trick.
Judging by the quality of the match and performance of both teams, they seem destined to meet in this weekend’s final with Fiji needing to upset Tahiti tomorrow to have any chance of making the final.
The winner of the tournament will represent Oceania at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Dubai in February next year.
Solomon Islands: 3 (Thomas AMASIA 3’, 30′, Max FA’ARI 28’)
Tahiti: 10 (Heirauarii SALEM 8’, 25’, 36’, Teaonui TEHAU 9’, Patrick TEPA 17’, Tamatoa TETAUIRA 19’, 31’, Raimana LI FUNG KUEE 26’, Heiarii TAVANAE 27’, Roonui TINIRAUARII 29’)