New Zealand and Fiji have qualified for the final of the OFC Women’s Nations Cup after impressive wins in their respective semi-finals. New Zealand eased past New Caledonia while Fiji pulled off a comeback to secure their spot.
(New Zealand – New Caledonia 8-0, Papua New Guinea – Fiji 1-5)
We start in Lifou where the hosts New Caledonia were hoping to avenge a defeat to New Zealand from the last time they played against each other in this tournament, 35 years ago(!).
That didn’t go too well as New Zealand did as they have done in all games so far in this tournament and quickly put a few balls in the net.
Betsy Hassett was the first on the scoresheet, just minutes into the match, followed by Emma Rolston in the seventh minute. They then took a little break from scoring but kept piling on the pressure.
Rolston returned with a wonder goal in the 21st minute as a poor goal kick was headed to her. She chested it up in the air, turned and volleyed the ball in a lovely arch over the goalkeeper who was caught in no-mans-land.
Two goals, one each from Katie Bowen and Paige Satchell, in the next ten minutes really sealed the deal for New Zealand before Rosie White got her name on the scoresheet and Rolston finished off the half by grabbing herself a hattrick, and the Ferns seventh goal.
New Zealand slowed down and rested their legs in the second half and it took fifteen minutes to get on the board as Rosie White got her brace. She slotted home a nicely played through ball from a few meters out.
And that was the only goal New Zealand got that half. Their other chances were missed but New Caledonia also played better at the back, it has to be said.
Fiji’s impressive comeback
In the other match over in Maré, it was Papua New Guinea searching for their fourth straight final, while Fiji were trying to get to their first ever.
It was the yellow-clad Papua New Guineans who broke the deadlock first as Meagan Gunemba was played through and made no mistake one-on-one with Adi Tuwai after 11 minutes. Fiji’s Trina Davis didn’t want to be any worse and did the same against Betty Sam in the PNG goal after 24 minutes.
Just three minutes later Fiji had turned the game around. A defensive error was capitalised on and Luisa Tamanitoakula managed to sneak the ball under the arms of Sam for Fiji’s second.
A third should have been added in the 35th minute as Cema Nasau was fouled in the PNG box and got a penalty. She decided to take it herself but her penalty was almost straight down the middle and Sam stood waiting long enough to make the save.
Just before the break PNG captain Sandra Birum came inches from bringing her side level. Her long-range effort rattled off the woodwork and stayed out.
Over in the second half PNG piled on the pressure but Fiji wouldn’t crack. Then Trina Davis decided to do it all herself in the 64th minute. She got the ball on the halfway line and used her speed to outrun the PNG defence on the break. Her finish was as calm as anything you’ve seen as she put it in the top corner to extend Fiji’s lead.
Just six minutes later and the entire nation of Fiji could breathe a sigh of relief as their place in the finals was essentially secured. Captain Jotivini Tabua broke through and tried her luck. The shot was saved by Sam, but the rebound fell to Nasau who made up for her penalty miss by scoring in the open net.
Four minutes before full-time Sofi Diyalowai put any shred of doubt to rest with a great finish as she ran through in the PNG box and smashed it home herself to get Fiji’s fifth goal.
New Zealand and Fiji will meet in the final on Saturday, December 1st and play a replay of the group stage match where the Kiwis won 10-0. The hosts New Caledonia will have to bounce back and try to secure a historic bronze against Papua New Guinea in the bronze final earlier that day.