RESULTS: First day winners at OFC U-19 Men’s Championship in Samoa

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Fiji and the Solomon Islands were first-day winners at the 2024 OFC U-19 Men’s Championship in Samoa.

Fiji beat Tahiti 3-1 while Solomon Islands overcame Vanuatu 1-0 at the eight-nation tournament in Apia.

The tournament decides which nation will represent Oceania at the 2025 FIFA U-20 Men’s World Cup in Chile.

New Zealand play their first game of the tournament on Saturday when they face New Caledonia.

Main photo: Fiji celebrate against Tahiti at the 2024 OFC U-19 Men’s Championship. Photo credit: OFC Media / Phototek.

Tahiti go ahead in the match. Photo credit: OFC Media / Phototek.

Fiji come from behind for first day win against Tahiti

Fiji pulled off a dramatic 3-1 comeback to secure all three points against Tahiti in the opening match at the tournament.

There was plenty of expectation ahead of the opening match for 2022 finalists Fiji, who were up against a Tahitian side strengthened by the abundance of players competing in leagues in France.

Tahiti had the opening chance of the match, a great floated ball from Iliwai Resopawiro found the head of Tahiarii Teriitemataua, who could only guide the ball into Illisoni Koro’s hand.

Photo credit: OFC Media / Phototek.

At the 15th minute mark Fiji should have gone ahead, co-captain Penisoni Tirau found himself one-on-one with Tahiti’s goalkeeper, but couldn’t convert.

The first goal of the game came courtesy of Tahiti’s captain. A great through ball put Kamalani Bennett into acres of space, before he expertly dispatched the ball past Koro to make it 1-0 to Fiji.

For all of Fiji’s opportunities and dominance the team couldn’t convert.

Captain Penisoni Tirau glided past multiple Tahitians, before setting up Aidan Malakai Singh but he couldn’t keep his shot on target.

As half time approached, Fiji were awarded a penalty kick, after Tirau was tripped inside the box and the captain was able to beat the keeper but hit the post.

In added time, Fiji pinched a well-earned equalizer. Tahiti failed to clear the ball in the box, giving Akash Prasad a chance and he took it, making it one-all.

Then, Tirau put the Fijians ahead when he unleashed a cracking strike from distance that bounced off the inside of the post, putting the 2022 finalists ahead 2-1 at the break.

Fiji started the second half the way they finished the first. Again, their captain, Tirau, lofted the ball into the back of the net, extending their lead to 3-1.

Under the hot sun, fatigue set in and intensity dropped, as the second half’s action was limited.

Late in the match, Bennett had a clear one-on-one opportunity for Tahiti but Fiji’s Koro made a brilliant save to deny him.

The 2022 finalists, Fiji, face Solomon Islands next. As for Tahiti, they’ll look to bounce back against Vanuatu in their second match on Monday.

Solomon Islands earn opening day victory against Vanuatu

Solomon Islands opened their campaign with a hard-fought 1-0 victory against Vanuatu in Apia.

Despite the disruption travelling to Samoa, the Solomon Islands showed none of it had phased them, after going up one-nil inside the opening 20 minutes.

Solomon Islands captain Paul Francis cut the Vanuatu defence with a through ball which James Laena latched onto before powering his shot past goalkeeper Joseph Nakou.

Laena was a constant threat down Vanuatu’s left side and almost created a second when he crossed it to the back post, but the defence managed to clear the danger in time.

Solomon Islands … one goal was enough for the win. Photo credit: OFC Media / Phototek.

A wild shot from distance from Sergio Waoute summed up Vanuatu’s frustrations in the first half as the Solomon Islands dominated possession and shots on target.

They almost added another on the stroke of half time, but Laena, who was in plenty of space, lifted his shot over the crossbar, leaving the score 1-0 at the break.

The flow of the second half was impacted by multiple injuries and players succumbing to cramps in the hot conditions.

Vanuatu grew into the contest towards the end of the second period, utilising the pace of substitute Jacky Numake, who just couldn’t find the target.

Solomon Islands pushed to add to their lead and came close to doubling it, as Sergio Waoute’s curling effort just drifted wide of the top left corner.

With time nearly expired, Manuel Lorren was handed a second yellow card, leaving Vanuatu with 10 men for the remainder of added time. Lorren will miss their next match on Monday.

The victory gives the Solomon Islands the perfect start to their campaign, whilst Vanuatu will look to rebound on match day two, when they face Tahiti.

Photo credit: OFC Media / Phototek.


We are grateful for the help of OFC Media in providing information for this story.


Games played on Friday July 5, 2024

Group A

Fiji 3 (Akash Prasad 45+1′, Penisoni Tirau 45+6′, 48′)
Tahiti 1 (Kamalani Bennett 20′)

Solomon Islands 1 (James Laena 17′)
Vanuatu 0


Games to be played on Saturday July 6, 2024

Group B

New Zealand v New Caledonia
FFS Football Stadium, Apia, Samoa, 11am (NZT)

PREVIEW: New Zealand ready to defend OFC U-19 Men’s Championship title >>>>

Samoa v Papua New Guinea
FFS Stadium, Apia, 2pm (NZT)

This story was first published on July 5, 2024.

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