Football overcomes weather challenges at OFC Women’s Champions League

After a weather-disrupted start to the OFC Women’s Champions League, the match schedule has resumed with a second game completed and two more set to go ahead on Tuesday.

On Monday, Henderson Eels and Avatiu played their first game at the tournament in the Solomon Islands, after their Pool A fixture was delayed from Sunday and moved to a different venue.

On Tuesday, New Zealand champions Auckland United play their first game at the tournament, after resheduling caused by adverse weather.

They play Fiji’s Labasa at 5pm (NZT).

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

Main photo credit: OFC Media / Phototek.

Henderson Eels take lead in Group A

Solomon Islands champions Henderson Eels scored twice in the second-half to secure their win against Avatiu to give  home fans something to cheer in the gloomy local weather.

Early, the Eels looked to stamp their authority at their home ground, camping in the visitors’ half for much of the first quarter of an hour. The pick of the shots on target came in the 13th minute, as the Eels’ Sandy Aniholland drew a strong one-handed save from Avatiu goalkeeper Meripa Seumanutafa.

Avatiu were largely content to sit deep and hit Henderson Eels on the counter. This almost paid off in the 24th minute, as Pauline Ngaroi latched onto a long ball in the Eels’ penalty area but couldn’t take advantage of the out-of-position goalkeeper Betty Sade.

Early substitute Mary Maefiti thought she’d broken the deadlock late in the first half, with her powerful drive from outside the area in the 45th minute, but was denied by a strong save from Seumanutafa.

Avatiu’s goalkeeper, with her mobile saves and commanding organisation of her penalty area, drew admiring cheers from the otherwise partisan Lawson Tama crowd, and was the primary reason for the first half finishing goalless.

Photo credit: OFC Media / Phototek.

Avatiu head coach Mii Savage made her first change at half time, bringing on Te Upoko Tuariki for Kataraina Piri, while Henderson Eels’s eleven remained the same as the second period began.

The locals started the second half with renewed vigour, and it duly paid off as Madeleine Arukau scored off a 54th-minute corner, latching onto the loose ball to spark joyous celebrations on the bench and in the stands. A second almost followed a couple of minutes later, but Seumanutafa was on hand to snuff out Ella Vakatao’s run.

Arukau turned provider in the 61st minute, starting a mazy run deep in Avatiu’s half and setting up Vakatao with a lovely slide-rule pass. Beating the offside trap, the Eels number 11 made no mistake sliding the ball past a stranded Seumanutafa.

Despite the Cook Islands team’s determined efforts in defence to keep the deficit to two in the final quarter of an hour, they were unable to build upon that and threaten at the other end.

With the initial postponement of this fixture, both sides will now have a short turnaround, with their second fixtures in Group A taking place on Wednesday.


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

Watch the highlights


Game played on Monday March 11, 2024

Group A

Avatiu FC (Cook Islands) 0
Henderson Eels (Solomon Islands) 2 (Madeleine Arukau 54’, Ella Vajatao 61′)


Games to be played on Tuesday March 12, 2024

Group B

Veitongo (Tonga) v AS Academy Féminine (New Caledonia)
Lawson Tama Stadium, Honiara, Solomon Islands, 2pm (NZT)

Labasa (Fiji) v Auckland United (NZ)
Lawson Tama Stadium, Honiara, Solomon Islands, 5pm (NZT)

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