December 7, 2023

OCL Qualifier Roundup: Goals galore in the final four matches

Tupapa Maraerenga secured a spot in the Group Stage with one match to go while Lupe Ole Soaga and Veitongo had to fight for the final to join them on the last day.

Tupapa Maraerenga secured a spot in the Group Stage with one match to go while Lupe Ole Soaga and Veitongo had to fight for the final to join them on the last day.

Lupe Ole Soaga and Veitongo battled it out for the final qualification spot in the last match (Photo credit: OFC)

Day 2 of the Qualifiers saw two blowout results as Tupapa Marerenga from the Cook Islands thumped Tongans Veitongo 9-2 and Samoa’s representative, Lupe Ole Soaga, bounced back from a poor first match by beating the American Samoan hosts Pago Youth by a massive 13-1.

That win meant that Tupapa secured qualification to the Group Stage with one match to go. Veitongo kept Lupe at bay almost through the first half but a stupid attempt at headbutting the opponent from Soakai Vea meant that Veitongo had to play with only ten men from 34 minutes into the match. After conceding two in added time of the first half to go in to the break with a 4-1 deficit instead of a credible 2-1 score meant that the air went out of the Veitongo balloon in the second half and Tupapa piled on the scoreline, with captain Sione Uhatahi being somewhat unlucky in being sent off after 74 minutes meaning that Veitongo had to finish with nine men.

As mentioned, Lupe cruised past hosts Pago Youth in their second match leading 6-1 at half time and not giving up until the scoreline had double digits. That win gave Lupe a big boost into the final match where they would battle it out with Veitongo for a likely place in the Group Stage in a winner take all match.

And in that match it was Lupe that came out on top winning 6-0. Fifteen very good minutes at the end of the first half laid the foundation as Lupe scored four goals between the 30th minute and the half time whistle. The Samoans turned on cruise control in the second half and substitute Darren Alatina Talilai finished off the match by scoring a brace. It should be said that Veitongo had to change goalkeeper after 17 minutes when Semisi Otukolo, who did not play in the first match, had to go off with an injury. Otukolo played very well and one has to wonder why he did not feature in the first two matches as his replacement Motekiai Faupula, who had been the one between the sticks in the first two matches, had not the best of showings in this game.

See highlights here:

This meant that Pago Youth only had their pride to play for against Tupapa Maraerenga, a win could bring a great deal of joy to the home crowd.

That didn’t happen.

It only took Maro Bonsu-Maro seven minutes to score and Geoffrey Strickland put a second in after 12 minutes. That was the score at half time and tired American Samoans couldn’t keep the Cook Islanders at bay as both Bonsu-Maro and Strickland got their second goals before Sean Latimer finished it off, making the final score 5-0.

Watch highlights here:

This means that Tupapa Maraerenga and Lupe Ole Soaga go through to the Group Stage. Tupapa will enter Group A where they will play Lae City Dwellers (Papua New Guinea), Ba (Fiji) and Nalkutan (Vanuatu, hosts). Lupe, on the other hand, will play in Group D against AS Magenta (New Caledonia), Marist (Solomon Islands), Team Wellington (New Zealand). Football in Oceania wishes both teams the best of luck.


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