Photo Credit: OFC Media via VFF

Tournament hosts Vanuatu have scored the only win on the opening day of the OFC U-19 Men’s Championship 2024 – Qualifying, beating American Samoa 4-0 at VFF Freshwater Stadium in Port Vila.

After Tonga needed an added time goal to escape with a one-all draw against the Cook Islands in the day’s early match, it took Vanuatu just six minutes to set the platform for a dominant win over the southernmost territory of the United States.

With Vanuatu President Nikenike Vurobaravu and Prime Minister Charleroi Salwai watching on, midfielder Sergio Waoute delivered a long range speculator that beat American Samoa goalkeeper Felise Fata and had the home crowd roaring.

Expectations of a rout were tempered as the American Samoan offside trap proved difficult to break down, until the final minute of regulation time in the first half.

After six golden opportunities had been squandered, quicksilver striker Jacky Numake was finally rewarded for constant creativity with a 45th minute goal, repeating the dose five minutes into added time.

The second half started with the now familiar pattern of Vanuatu making sizzling breaks and creating gilt-edged opportunities only to be let down by poor finishing, a courageous Fata and the woodwork.

Goal number four finally appeared in the 70th minute when left winger Ronn Tasarur danced into the penalty area and his shot, initially looking like a clunky worm-burner, had enough velocity to squeeze between the left hand post and the despairing dive of Fata.

The rest of the match was like Groundhog Day, The Football Edition – Vanuatu looking likely to score, American Samoa somehow managing to save. Rinse and repeat.

But the crowd, the President and Prime Minister were highly entertained and many will be back for another dose of age group action on Friday when the second round of matches take place, with American Samoa facing the Cook Islands and Tonga meeting Vanuatu.

Only the top ranked team after the three qualifying rounds will earn the final spot at the OFC Men’s Championship being held in Samoa this July.

Vanuatu: 4 (Sergio WAOUTE 6’, Jacky NUMAKE 45, 45+5’, Ronn TASARUR 70’)
American Samoa: 0

HT 3-0