The wind played a big role as Papua New Guinea beat Samoa in the opening match of the OFC Women’s Nations Cup.
(Samoa – Papua New Guinea 0-5)
Papua New Guinea took an easy win to kick off the Nations Cup at Stade Yoshida in Koné on Sunday. A Meagan Gunemba in great form helped the three-time runners-up to the first win of the tournament with her hattrick.
Papua New Guinea’s opening goal came after 17 minutes as a long kick upfield from goalkeeper Faith Kasiray that got some extra distance thanks to the wind, was poorly handled by Mariecamilla Ah Ki and Gunemba snatched onto it. The youngster ran through on goal and slotted it home.
Gunemba was at it just minutes later with a shot from the edge of the area that hit the crossbar.
But Gunemba would get her second only minutes after the first when the wind again played a part. Samoa’s keeper Meripa Seumanutafa’s goal kick was shortened by the heavy headwind and the Samoan team were dispossessed. Gunemba tried her luck from the edge of the area again and this time the ball found the back of the net.
The third goal came from midfielder Yvonne Gabong who headed home from close range after a nice cross in the 27th minute.
The second half saw an aggressive Samoa side come out of the dressing room and they were the better side for the first five minutes of the half, but then PNG got a goal out of nothing.
A seemingly random long ball was briefly touched by an always chasing Gunemba and the touch was enough to send the ball under the feet of the onrushing Samoa goalkeeper. The defenders couldn’t get there in time and the ball bounced over the line.
Hana Malo had come on for Samoa at half time and had her country’s best chance of the game just past the hour mark. Her impressive free kick from some 30 meters out hit the bar and PNG goalkeeper Faith Kasiray escaped without conceding.
In the 86th minute Marie Kaipu put the ball in the net a fifth time for PNG, but the goal was disallowed for offside by the assistant referee.
PNG managed to add the fifth and final goal in added time as Kaipu hit the crossbar and substitute Rayleen Bauelua tapped it in from close range.
With the win, Papua New Guinea are off to the best possible start as they look to reach a fourth consecutive OFC Women’s Nations Cup Final. Samoa