Papua New Guinea showed great efficiency as they dispatched of the hosts New Caledonia to secure bronze at the OFC Women’s Nations Cup.
(Papua New Guinea – New Caledonia 7-1)
It started great for the Papua New Guineans as Meagan Gunemba scored an absolutely brilliant goal after just five minutes. She broke through on the right flank and from a very tight angle sent off a shot that caught New Caledonia keeper Dolores Bodeouarou off guard. The shot-stopper was expecting a cross but instead, the ball sneaked over her hands and into the far corner.
After New Caledonia started the game on the front foot, PNG took over more and more. An indirect free kick inside the New Caledonia box, thanks to a back pass, was cleared away after just shy of half an hours play.
PNG’s pressure would be rewarded in the 36th minute as a sloppy pass from the hosts in midfield led to Gunemba once again being played through and the pacey striker made no mistakes and kept her calm alone with Bodeouarou to double PNG’s lead.
The Lakatois third would come just five minutes later as Gunemba and Yvonne Gabong combined nicely. An attempted New Caledonian clearance bounced off Gabong and the midfield enforcer took the ball into the box and smashed it home to secure a 3-0 lead for PNG at halftime.
New Caledonia were feeling the effect of so many games in few days and were just lacking the final key pass every time they tried to break through. They produced a few chances but most were harmlessly wide of Betty Sam’s goal.
A better second half
Over in the second half, Sam was put to work by Sydney Gatha when she was played through, and her volley had the goalkeeper just getting a hand to it and putting it over the bar. New Caledonia looked like they were clawing their way back.
But then a copy of the first goal was conceded in the 52nd minute. Selina Unamba received the ball and tried her luck from almost out by the sideline on the left side. Bodeouarou jumped for it but couldn’t get her hands high enough and New Caledonia’s nice start was ruined.
Just two minutes later Gunemba got her hattrick. She raced through and again kept her cool one-on-one with the New Caledonia keeper to give PNG a 5-0 lead.
New Caledonia brought on Jackie Pahoa just before the hour mark and she only needed a few seconds to put her mark on the match. A low cross found the young winger and she tapped it in from close range a minute after coming on.
Pahoa kept being a constant nuisance to the PNG defence and her passion and speed seemed to wake up the rest of her teammates as New Caledonia lifted their performance to a whole new level over the next fifteen minutes.
But it wasn’t to be for New Caledonia. Claire Kaemo lost the ball for no reason eight minutes before the end of the match. The ball was picked up by Gabong who once again found Gunemba. The striker rounded the onrushing keeper and tapped the ball into the open net for her fourth.
Then just a minute later PNG captain Sandra Birum put the icing on the cake by getting her name on the scoresheet. She ran through and put the ball past Bodeouarou for the final goal of the match.
Papua New Guinea continues their impressive run of medals at the OFC Women’s Nations Cup which has been going since the 1991 edition. The hosts bow out of a successful tournament in less than impressive style, but all in all, just taking part for the first time in 35 years is an achievement.