Fiji have joined New Zealand from Group A in advancing to the semi-finals of the OFC Men’s Olympic Qualifier in Auckland.
Coach Robert Sherman’s side has bounced back from Wednesday’s 3-1 defeat by the hosts to beat Papua New Guinea 2-0 at Go Media Mt Smart Stadium, to finish runners-up in Group A.
Fiji dominated from the outset with Thomas Dunn just failing to get on the end of a brilliant cross before skipper Etonia Dogalau headed home in the 5th minute after a cross from Nabil Begg to open the scoring. Dogalau was a persistent aerial threat with his height.
The Fijians bossed possession in the opening spell and exploited the space out wide on a picture-perfect sunny day in Auckland.
Papua New Guinea, who only arrived in the country late on Wednesday night, were sluggish to begin with and gradually grew into the game.
They were always dangerous on the counterattack and Oberth Simon had a chance to level the scores in the 20th minute when he found himself in a lot of space down the left, but the Fijian defence scrambled across to shut him down.
Dogalau should have extended Fiji’s lead in the 30th minute when Dogalau was put clean through on goal by left back Mohammed Muzakkir -Nabeel but with only the advancing PNG keeper Adrian Redenut to beat, he scuffed his shot wide.
Leading 1-0 at the break, Fiji were looking comfortable.
Dogalau headed straight at the keeper from six yards out six minutes into the second spell as Fiji continued in their ascendency.
They doubled their lead in the 65th minute with a brilliant header from Aporosa Yada after a perfectly timed cross from Begg for his second assist.
The game become scrappy as the half wore on and PNG needing to win and desperate to score three goals pushed players forward. But they were unable to muster any meaningful shots to trouble Aydin Mustahib in the Fijian goal.
Fiji are likely to face the Solomon Islands in Wednesday’s semi-finals, who are expected to top Group B which concludes at The Trusts Arena tomorrow.
Main photo: Fiji celebrate scoring against Papua New Guinea. Photo credit: OFC / Phototek.
Acknowledgement: Match report provided by OFC Media.
Game played on Saturday September 2, 2023
OFC Olympic qualifier
Papua New Guinea 0
Fiji 2 (Etonia Dogalau 5′, Aporosa Yada 66′)
Games to be played on Sunday September 3, 2023
Vanuatu v Samoa
The Trusts Arena, Auckland, 12pm
Tonga v Solomon Islands
The Trusts Arena, Auckland, 3pm
To be played at Go Media Mt Smart Stadium on Wednesday September 6, 2023, at 3pm and 7pm.
To be played at North Harbour Stadium on Saturday September 9, 2023, at 7pm.