Hosts Tahiti will look to confirm their place in the semi-finals of the OFC U-19 Championship tomorrow when they play their final Group A encounter against a fading Tonga side at Stade Fautaua.
New Zealand, with their place in the knockout stage assured, will be looking to make it a clean sweep with a third straight victory when they take on a heavily depleted Papua New Guinea side.
The playing field at Stade Pater took a major hit after two consecutive days of matches combined with consistent heavy rain, so Group A will now get their first hit-out at Stade Fautaua with the earlier kick-off times of midday and 3pm.
New Zealand will get Saturday’s action underway against Papua New Guinea in what is expected to be another one-sided affair in the Kiwis favour.
After knocking 14 goals past Tonga with three players registering hat-tricks, Des Buckingham’s charges will take a major confidence boost into their final encounter. They’ve experienced two opposing team approaches in their first two games, and with passage to the semi-final confirmed, Papua New Guinea provides a chance for New Zealand to continue working on becoming a strong unit.
“It’s only our second game together as a group, we’ve only had ten sessions together so we’ll use it as a building block.
“I don’t think any of the players you’ll speak to will say it’s an easy one. We’ve managed to play every player in the squad, and they’ll all be fighting for that third game.”
After seeing Papua New Guinea’s opening match, Buckingham said the qualities of the team were apparent.
“We saw them against Tonga and we know if you give them a bit of space and time they’ve got good players who will play around you,” he said.
However Papua New Guinea will be a different side to the one New Zealand’s coach saw in the opening match after a forgettable performance against Tahiti leaves Harrison Kamake’s squad seriously depleted for their last group game.
Papua New Guinea struggled against the speed and power of the Tahitians on Wednesday night and when it all kicked off in the second half, they found themselves five goals down with just eight players left on the field.
With a win and a loss Papua New Guinea still have an outside chance of qualifying from Group A should the results of the final match day go in their favour, including if they are able to put up a strong performance against New Zealand.
However that will be tough with Kamake left with just two players warming his bench for Saturday.
“With the feeling now it will be a bit difficult because of the emotions from our last game,” Kamake said.
“But it’s our job to try and get the boys back on track for the final game. We will still be going out there with the same approach we always have. We won’t be playing more defensively but will be just take the approach that we have been doing all along.”
Based on the standings and the schedule for the final round of Group A games, Tahiti are looking good to progress to the semi-finals as runners-up.
With their final opponent Tonga having struggled to make the step up to this level of regional competition, Tahiti are likely to find relatively easy passage past them.
However there will be no resting on their laurels with coach Bruno Tehaamoana cognisant that the side must maintain their concentration.
“With all respect for Tonga, we’ll play seriously like we did tonight. We’ll prepare well for it, like we have all the others so far.
“Right now, we still haven’t qualified. We have the same number of points as Papua New Guinea so we need to remain serious and I think we can go through, but will still respect our adversary.”
Papua New Guinea vs. New Zealand
Saturday 11 August
Stade Fautaua, Tahiti
Kick-off: 12h00 local (Sunday 12 August – 8h PNG / 9h SOL, VAN & NCL / 10h FIJ & NZL / 11h TGA)
Referee: Joel HOPKEN (VAN)
Assistant Referee 1: Stephen SENIGA (SOL)
Assistant Referee 2: Jeremy GARAE (VAN)
Fourth Official: Salesh CHAND (FIJ)
Papua New Guinea: 1. Baxter MORRIS (GK), 2. Laventine MONUO, 6. Ricky WADUNAH, 7. Emmanuel SIMONGI, 8. Stahl GUBAG, 9. Barthy KEROBIN, 10. Oberth SIMON, 11. Yagi YASASA, 13. Cameron NUABI, 15. Binniget LUAINE, 18. Wolfram GREGORY, 19. Abraham ALLEN, 20. Graham BERIGAMI (GK)
Suspended: 3. Kimson KAPAI, 4. Sylvester LUKE, 5. Freeman GIWI, 16. Jonathan ALLEN, 17. Dopson NOI
Coach: Harrison KAMAKE (PNG)
New Zealand: 1. Cameron BROWN (GK), 2. Jordan SPAIN, 3. Dino BOTICA, 4. Joe BELL, 5. Robert TIPELU, 6. Dane SCHNELL, 7. Matthew CONROY, 8. Trevor ZWETSLOOT, 9. Max MATA, 10. Charles SPRAGG, 11. Willem EBBINGE, 12. Zac JONES (GK), 14. Jorge AKERS, 15. Callan ELLIOT, 16. Leon VAN DEN HOVEN, 17. Boyd CURRY, 18. Kingsley SINCLAIR, 19. Oliver WHYTE
Coach: Des BUCKINGHAM (ENG)
Tahiti vs. Tonga
Saturday 11 August
Stade Pater, Tahiti
Kick-off: 15h00 local (Sunday 12 August – 11h PNG / 12h VAN, SOL & NCL / 13h FIJ & NZL / 14h TGA)
Referee: Robinson BANGA (VAN)
Assistant Referee 1: Bernard MUTUKERA (VAN)
Assistant Referee 2: Hilmon SESE (VAN)
Fourth Official: George TIME (SOL)
Tahiti: 2. Antonio FIU, 3. Hannel TEHAAMOANA, 4. Kavai’ei MORGANT, 6. Ramanui AMAU, 7. Ramanui AMAU, 8. Yann VIVI, 9. Eddy KASPARD, 10. Roonui TEHAU, 11. Mauri HEITAA, 12. Hugo BOUBE, 13. Keali’i WONG, 14. Tutehau TUFARIUA, 15. Hauragi HURI, 16. Tevaearai TAMATAI (GK), 17. Rainui NORDMAN, 18. Samuel LIPARO, 19. Orirau TEIHO, 20. Ariimana TAAROAMEA, 23. Moana PITO (GK)
Suspended: 5. Purutu NANUAITERAI
Coach : Bruno TEHAAMOANA (TAH)
Tonga: 1. Semisi OTUKOLO (GK), 2. Petueli TOTOTAHA, 3. Sione TU’IFANGALOKO, 4. Ofa KITE, 5. Tevita VAKATAPU, 6. Vai LUTU, 8. Kalakaua FAIVAILO, 9. Tevita KAU, 10. Mohammad RAJANI, 11. Viliami TUKIA, 12. Tevita SILI, 13. Opesi TU’IFANGALOKO, 14. Sione VA’ENUKU, 15. Jacob KILMARTIN, 16. Tellos KAUFUSI, 17. Atunaisa NAMOA, 19. Setafano VAOMO’UNGA, 20. Sionela LUI (GK)
Suspended: 7. Tuia FALEPAPALANGI
Coach : Soane MAILANGI (TGA)