Tahiti’s Coupe de Polynésie got back underway over the past week with some thrilling ties, upsets and early front-runners emerging.
The competition, which dates back to the 1930s, affords the winners an opportunity to enter France’s elite knockout competition the Coupe de France at the seventh-round stage next season.
AS Venus are the reigning champions from 2021 and are looking for their third triumph in succession after also winning the tournament in 2019, with the 2020 event cancelled due to the impact of COVID-19.
Venus started their defence in convincing fashion, picking up a 4-0 win over AS Tamarii Temanava at Stade Pater last Thursday, April 14.
After a goalless first half, an own goal from Tamarii Temanava captain Ruben Wajoka shortly after the restart gave Venus the lead. Teaonui Tehau, the current top scorer in Tahiti’s Ligue 1, then doubled the cup-holders advantage after 59 minutes and just a minute later it was 3-0, thanks to a Tauhiti Keck goal.
Any hope of a comeback for Tamarii Temanava dissipated five minutes later, when Moanahau Lewis Tengehoi Lai was shown a red-card. Keck then secured the 4-0 win, and his brace, in the 90th minute to ensure Venus continue their defence of the trophy.
On the same evening, AS Dragon highlighted their credentials with a comfortable 8-0 win over AS Excelsior. In-form attacker Shawn Roonui Tinirauarii scored a hat-trick for the current Ligue 1 leaders.
AS Tamarii Punaruu also picked up a comfortable win, defeating AS Jeunes Tahitiens 6-1 whilst Raimana Tetuanui’s goal proved the difference as AS Pueu beat AS Mataiea 1-0 in their all-Ligue 1 clash. AS Pirae booked their place in the next round after two first half goals ensured a 2-0 win over AS Tohie’a.
However, it will not exclusively be teams from Tahiti’s top-tier in the next round. Current Ligue 2 leaders AS Taiarapu FC beat AS Arue on penalties to move on whilst fellow second-tier outfit AS Papenoo have also advanced, seeing off AS Manu Ura 5-0.
AS Tiare Anani also ensured there would be representatives from Ligue 2 Moorea in the round of 16. Substitute Vaimanarii Neufatte’s goal eventually saw off Ligue 1 opposition AS Olympic de Mahina in a 4-3 thriller.
They will not be the only team from the division in the next round. Current Ligue 2 Moorea leaders AS Tiare Hinano advanced after a penalty shoot-out win against AS Tiare Tahiti.
AS Central Sport, the record holding 18-time winners of the competition, received a bye to the next round along with seven other teams, with 16 left dreaming of winning one of the region’s most prestigious competitions.
Coupe de Polynésie – First round results
AS Tamarii Temanava 0-4 AS Venus
AS Excelsior 0-8 AS Dragon
AS Jeunes Tahitiens 1-6 AS Tamarii Punaruu
AS Papenoo 5-0 AS Manu Ura
AS Tiare Anani 4-3 AS Olympic de Mahina
AS Tiare Tahiti 1-1 AS Tiare Hinano (Tiare Hinano win 4-3 on pens)
AS Mataiea 0-1 AS Pueu
AS Arue 3-3 AS Taiarapu FC (Taiarapu FC win 4-2 on pens)
AS Tohie’a 0-2 AS Pirae