Two more semi-finalists found at OFC U-19 Men’s Championship in Samoa

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The Solomon Islands have topped Group A and secured a semi-final spot after a 1-0 victory against Tahiti at the OFC U-19 Men’s Championship.

Fiji will enter the last four as the runners-up in Group A and will meet New Zealand if the defending champions secure top spot in Group B on Friday.

The two finalists at the tournament will represent Oceania at next year’s FIFA U-20 Men’s World Cup in Chile.

When the Solomon Islands met Tahiti in Thursday’s group game, both teams knew the equation: a win or draw would see the Solomon Islands progress, but Tahiti needed a victory to guarantee their spot in the semi-finals.

The Solomon Islands threatened first, as Jimson Abana twice found himself in behind the Tahiti defence but both his shots were off target.

The ball found its way into the back of net after 22 minutes, but the ball was deemed to have hit Abana’s hand as he rounded the keeper to tap the ball into the net.

Solomon Islands (yellow shirts) overcame Tahiti to top the group. Photo credit: OFC Media / DJ Mills / Phototek.

Solomon Islands’ speed up front was hurting Tahiti. This time it was speedster James Laena bearing down on goal, but it took a fantastic save from Keahinui Heinis to deny him.

Tahiti came into life towards the end of the half, as Iliwai Resopawiro dribbled past multiple Solomon Islands defenders before unleashing his shot that just went wide.

A stunning 60-metre run from Franck Papaura gave Tahiti the final chance of the first period. However, after doing all the work, his chip shot was easily smothered by goalkeeper Gideon Abidan.

The first goal came early in the second half. Defender Hitimoana Teuira got caught in possession in Tahiti’s penalty box by Abana, who drove towards the byline before cutting back the ball for Laena, who smashed it beyond Heinis.

At the midway stage of the second period, Abana could have made it two after making a run from halfway, only for Tahiti’s cover defence to block him.

Today’s result makes it three wins in a row for the Solomon Islands, who’ve managed to get through the groups without conceding a single goal. They await the results of tomorrow’s Group B matches to see who they play.

As for Tahiti, they finished third in the group and will take part in the fifth-place playoff on Tuesday.

Fiji coast to big win against Vanuatu

Fiji fought back from a goal down to secure a resounding 6-1 victory against Vanuatu at the OFC U-19 Men’s Championship in Apia.

It took Vanuatu four minutes to open the scoring. Ronn Tasarur latched onto a long ball, drove into the box, and cut the ball back for Glen Maki to smash his shot past Ilisoni Koro from close range.

Having conceded against the run of play, Fiji’s early dominance saw them immediately respond, with co-captain Penisoni Tirau providing the equalizer.

Ibraheem Afazal whipped in a dangerous free kick, and lurking at the back post was an unmarked Tirau who had a free header and buried it in the back of the net.

Fiji and Vanuatu in action. Photo credit: OFC Media / DJ Mills / Phototek.

Momentum on their side, the 2022 finalists were back on the scoresheet again 12 minutes later. A strong run into the box from Eparama Moraica, saw him square it back for Afazal, who scored into an empty net to establish Fiji’s lead.

A length of the field run from Tirau almost resulted in another Fiji goal. His lay-off for Moraica saw him turn and shoot, but it was cleared off the line by Jean Patriano Natou.

The third goal came shortly after. Afazal was unmarked in the middle of the field, and unleashed a cracking strike from distance which beat Joseph Nakou in goal.

The entertaining half didn’t stop there. Afazal was back in the thick of the action, his corner kick found an unmarked Sterling Vasconcellos at the back post, who looped his header back across goal into the far corner.

Desperately seeking a way back into the match, Vanuatu left themselves exposed at the back.

Fiji used their tall timber to perfection at set-piece time. An inswinging corner kick found Vasconcellos at the back post, and he scored an easy header from close range.

William Khan sealed the result for Fiji, by converting a corner in the final moments, scoring with a header for his first goal for his country.

Credit had to be given to Vanuatu who didn’t die wondering as they tried their best to get back a goal.

For Vanuatu, that’s three defeats at the tournament, meaning they’ll take part in the play-off for seventh place on Tuesday.

Main photo: Fiji are into the semi-finals of the tournament. Photo credit: OFC Media / DJ Mills / Phototek.


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


Games played on Thursday July 11, 2024

Group A

Vanuatu 1 (Glen Maki 4′)
Fiji 6 (Penisoni Tirau 13’, Ibraheem Afazal 25’, 29’, Sterling Vasconcellos 35’, 61′; William Khan 90+5′)

Tahiti 0
Solomon Islands 1 (James Laena 52′)


Games to be played on Friday July 12, 2024

Group B

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

New Caledonia v Samoa
FFS Football Stadium, Apia, Samoa, 2pm (NZT)

This story was first published on July 11, 2024.

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