OFC: Fiji continues unbeaten run in scintillating form

Tommy Semmy dribbling his way through a Tahiti defender

The action continued in the second round of the OFC Men’s Nations Cup in Suva yesterday.

PNG and Tahiti took to the field yesterday afternoon in what was expected to be a fair and hard- fought contest.

Tahiti’s Mateo Degrumelle continued his scintillating form from round one, mesmerising spectators with his rapid and skillful style of football.

The star player scored Tahiti’s goal just 14 minutes into the game.

However, Papua New Guinea struck back with a brilliant equaliser by Pala Paul.

The small contingent of PNG supporters present at the HFC stadium loved that goal.

PNG’s Tommy Semmy was relentless throughout the match. The 29-year-old who also plays for the Melbourne Knights in Australia’s National Premier League was spectacular in both defense and attack.

Manuarii Shan and Teaonui Tehau usually link up well with Degrumelle, but the PNG defensive line contained them all evening.

While both sides missed very close attempted goals, at the final whistle the score remained 1 – 1.

Fiji v Samoa

Yesterday’s second match saw Fiji looking to build on the momentum from their first round win.

Fiji seized every opportunity, scoring three goals in the first half by way of Hughes, Dunn and Krishna.

Perhaps the best goal was a perfectly timed header from 21-year-old Thomas Dunn. His leap had him towering over the Samoan defender to nudge the ball in.

Samoa’s Luke Salisbury looked dangerous each time he had possession of the ball and scored Samoa’s first and only goal just one minute into the second half.

However, Fiji piled on the pressure and it was a very busy night for Samoa’s goalkeeper, Joel Bartley.

When Thomas Dunn was fouled within the penalty box, Roy Krishna scored an easy second goal.

Setaraki Hughes also scored his second just two minutes later.

Filipe Baravilala and Nabil Begg followed with a goal each, and replacement Etonia Dogalau scored two goals when he came in.

Final score 9 – 1.

Samoa Captain Andrew Setefano was unhappy with their performance.

“This is not the result we’ve been wanting. We came today to give the hosts a bit of a challenge, a bit of a game…we did it a little bit but then all of a sudden we didn’t execute our shapes and our combat defence and they just punished us from there. But well done and well deserved to the Fiji boys,” he said.

Setefano is now looking to their next match against Papua New Guinea.

“We have to come with everything we have against PNG. We know that it’s a must for us to win. We can’t go back home empty handed, especially when our country is watching and supporting us. These are not the results we wanted but as long as we take a win back home it will be good for us.”

Fiji coach Robert Sherman says the team wants to win its group and play the second placed team in the other group when it gets to the semifinals.  

“I’ve got confidence in the whole 23. I’m at a stage where we believe if someone is out and someone replaces, there’s no real drop in standard. Our mentality as a group, and the boys have been very good with this,  is it’s a team of 23. Eleven that you get on the pitch but the 23 have contributed massively.”

Fiji meets Tahiti in its next match.