Unlikely Pair Keep Qualifying Hopes Alive
New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea have given themselves every opportunity of qualifying for Stage 2 of the Oceania Nations Cup/World Cup Qualifiers at the end of the month after victories in their respective group games.
New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea have given themselves every opportunity of qualifying for Stage 2 of the Oceania Nations Cup/World Cup Qualifiers at the end of the month after victories in their respective group games. Yesterday, New Caledonia defeated the Cook Islands 8-0, which lifts them just a win shy of Tahiti in Group 1, with one round remaining. A win to New Caledonia over Tonga in its final game, will put them above Tahiti on goal difference and they will be hoping the Tahitians lose to group leaders Solomon Islands in the following match. New Caledonia led by 6-0 at half-time but was held to just two second half goals as the Cooks tightened up on defence. Striker Michael Hmae was unstoppable for New Caledonia scoring five of the eight goals. Tahiti struggled to a 2-0 win over Tonga in the second match, a result that severely affected their goal difference and could have a big say in whether they get through to the next stage. Gabriel Wajoka got Tahiti in front early on as it searched for a big score, but from there, the Tongans were able to hold the Tahitians until the dying minutes when Axel Temataua scored Tahiti-s second goal to secure a 2-0 in for his side. Meanwhile today, Papua New Guinea has recorded their first win of the 2004 OFC Nations Cup/FIFA World Cup Stage 1 preliminaries with a commanding 10-0 win over the bottom placed side in Group 2, American Samoa.
Led by New Zealand-based striker Reginald Davani who scored four goals, PNG cruised to a 7-0 lead and were held to just three goals in the second half. Midfielder Andrew Lepani was also in good goal-scoring touch with a hat-trick. The win improves the chances of PNG of sneaking the runner up qualifying spot for Stage 2 depending on the outcome of the other remaining matches. PNG will need Fiji to beat Vanuatu in the opening clash of the final round and if that outcome goes its way, PNG will then need to beat hosts Samoa by about two or three goals to grab the second spot. Meanwhile Fiji has beaten an injury depleted Samoan side 4-0 in the second match of round 4. Samoa came out firing and held the Fijians to just a one goal in the first half to giant striker Veresa Toma. But after the break, the Fijians steadily took control of the match and ran away with the win through three further goals to Waisake Sabutu, Esala Masi and Seveci Rokotakala.