October 1, 2023

New Caledonia qualify for semi-final after win over Samoa

New Caledonia did the job required against Samoa

It was all to play for in the final match of Group A and the hosts New Caledonia did the job required against Samoa.

(New Caledonia – Samoa 2-0)

New Caledonia are through to the semi-finals (Photo credit: Shane Wenzlick/phototek.nz/OFC)

Samoa knew that if they could grab a win they would go through to the semi-finals while New Caledonia knew they only needed a draw.

But perhaps the pressure got to both sides as the first half was a half easily forgotten. New Caledonia took charge from the start and had several half-chances.

Samoa had barely anything to present going forward. The strategy of playing Mariah Bullock and Sina Sataraka together up front bearing little fruits.

New Caledonia were better, but the last pass was lacking for many of the chances they created, just barely missing their intended targets.

The shots that came her way Ronisa Lipi had good control on, the others sailed harmlessly wide or over the bar.

The biggest chance of the half came just before added time and it was quite describing of the rest of the half.

A New Caledonia free kick was swung in but Jackie Pahoa just couldn’t stretch her foot far enough to connect with the ball. One or two sizes bigger in the boots department could have given that story a different ending.

Finally rewarded

Over in the second half it only took five minutes for New Caledonia to break the deadlock.

A wonderful cross from Pahoa found the head of Ami-Nata Ajapuhnya who crushed Lipi in the air to head New Caledonia into the lead. Now Samoa had a job on their hands.

That job got nearly impossible in the 66th minute when Kamene Xowie’s cross curled and dipped over the arms of Lipi and into the back of the net.

A great goal that crushed any hope Samoa might have had to come back and go through as they needed three goals to do so.

Although Samoa woke up a little after that New Caledonia never looked in trouble.

That means “Le Cagous” will take on the winner of Group B, which will be determined on Sunday. That match will be played on the island of Lifou, the birthplace of France legend Christian Karembeu.


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