UPDATE: Weather disrupts opening games in OFC Women’s Champions League

Adverse weather conditions have forced the postponement of one game and the rescheduling of two more matches, at the OFC Women’s Champions League tournament in the Solomon Islands.

The changes include the tournament opener for New Zealand’s Auckland United.

Wet weather on Sunday has led to decisions by tournament organisers to:

  • Cancel Sunday’s game between Avatiu (Cook Islands) and Henderson Eels (Solomon Islands), and reschedule it to 5pm (NZT) on Monday March 11, to be played at Lawson Tama Stadium, Honiara.
  • Reschedule Group B’s fixture between Veitongo (Tonga) and AS Academy Féminine (New Caledonia) to 2pm (NZT) on Tuesday March 12, 2024.
  • Reschedule Auckland United’s match with Labasa (Fiji) till 5pm (NZT) on Tuesday March 12, 2024.

It’s the second time Auckland United’s fixture has been rescheduled, after it was earlier brought forward to a 5pm kick-off following problems with floodlights.

The venue for the two Group B matches will be Lawson Tama Stadium, Honiara.

Meanwhile, one game has been completed at the tournament.

Morning showers in Honiara eased off for the opening match, a 1-1 draw between Takea FC and Hekari United.

Two penalties in the first half ensured a share of the spoils, with Tafea FC also missing another spot kick in the second half, forgoing the chance to take all three points.

Main photo: Tafea concede a penalty to Hekari United. Photo credit: OFC Media / Phototek.

In hot conditions at the SIFF Academy ground, neither side were able to truly settle into their rhythm in the opening stages.

The Hekari United attack, spearheaded by skipper Marie Kaipu, were quick to press the Vanuatu side early on and it was Kaipu who registered the game’s first attempt on goal in the 7th minute, although her shot-come-cross was easily gathered by Tafea’s Nettie Kalsau.

The first real chance of the half came in the 18th minute, with Tafea rippling the wrong side of Hekari’s net after a swift counterattack — the Tafea bench momentarily convinced they had broken the deadlock.

Just under 20 minutes later, they did just that.

Tafea were awarded a penalty in the 37th minute after Diane Sine was brought down in the box. Jane Alatoa stepped up to take the spot kick and rifled the ball past Fidelma Watpore to give her side a crucial lead.

Hekari renewed their urgency on attack, creating more chances. The pick of the bunch coming from Michaelyne Butubu’s cutback to Kaipu in space in the Tafea penalty area. She was quickly robbed of the ball, however, and a swift Tafea counterattack almost saw the debutants double their lead through Sine, who narrowly shot wide.

Hekari United’s persistence paid off with an equaliser on the stroke of half-time, after Elma Aiviji caught Butubu with a stray boot in the box. Hekari midfielder Phylis Pala brought her side level again, with her spot kick sent just out of reach of Nettie Kalsau.

The sides remained unchanged when play resumed, with coaches Robert Calvo and Ericson Komeng both opting to persevere with their starting elevens.

Despite conceding at the end of the first half, Tafea started the second half the brighter of the two sides, looking to re-establish their lead.

The second half began similarly to how the first half ended: with a penalty, again won by Sine for Tafea FC, having been bundled over by Hekari defender Raynata Samuel after dancing down the left wing and cutting into Hekari’s penalty area.

Sine herself took the spot kick but was unable to restore her side’s lead, crashing her shot against the crossbar before the Hekari defence were able to scramble clear.

Hortance Kimit came close to putting Hekari in the lead for the first time in the match but Kalsau tipped her shot onto the crossbar and was able to quickly gather the rebound.

Ericson Komeng was the first to turn to his bench, bringing Anastasia Gunemba and Mavis Singara on for Nenny Elipas and Kimit, respectively, in the 65th minute. Robert Calvo followed suit two minutes later, replacing Rinneth Siri with Henriette Sangul.

Both sides continued to push, searching for what would have been a vital winning goal. Sine had a golden chance as the clock ticked over 90 minutes but her lofted effort drifted agonisingly wide for Tafea.

Auckland United ready for first game

PREVIEW: Auckland United ready ‘to do country proud’ in Solomon Islands >>>>


We acknowledge the assistance of OFC Media in providing our reports from the Solomon Islands.


Game played on Sunday March 10, 2024

Group A

Tafea FC (Vanuatu) 1 (Jane Alatoa 37′ pen)
Hekari United (PNG) 1 (Phiylis Pala 45+8′ pen)

Avatiu FC (Cook Islands) P
Henderson Eels (Solomon Islands) P


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