October 6, 2022

OFC World Cup qualifiers: Round 1 roundup

The first four games have been played at the OFC World Cup Qualification in Doha.

Solomon Islands captain Micah Lea’alafa unleashes a strike in the FIFA 2022 World Cup Qualifiers against the Cook Islands. Photo credit: OFC Media

Game 1: Cook Islands – Solomon Islands 0-2

The Cooks played their first match since 2016 and put in a solid performance against the Solomon Islands, but eventually fell short.

The Solomons took 20 minutes to break down the Cooks defence, when Atkin Kaua put the green shirts in the lead with a well timed strike into the far corner from the edge of the area.

They added their second one moments before half time through Alwin Hou.

Hou sent another low strike into the bottom corner from just outside the box, after a well worked attack from the Solomon Islanders.

The Cooks rarely looked threatening going forward and coach Alan Taylor will want to see some more attacking spirit from his boys when they play Tahiti next.

Watch the highlights of the match here:

Game 2: Tahiti – Vanuatu TBD

The second game of the tournament… didn’t happen. Roughly an hour before the game was supposed to go ahead the OFC sent out a press release saying a covid outbreak in the Vanuatu camp had seen them unable to field a team.

So far no points have been handed out for the match and it is not sure when, or if, the match will be able to be played, and what happens ahead of the next game where Vanuatu is supposed to take on the Solomon Islands Sunday evening local time.

Game 3: Papua New Guinea – New Zealand 0-1

The first game of Group B saw a repeat of the 2016 OFC Nations Cup final, but this time the match was decided in the normal 90 minutes.

A first half that saw New Zealand have the better chances ended scoreless, and some might have started to hope for an upset, but in the 75th minute debutant All White Ben Waine was at the end of a quickly taken free kick to send New Zealand into the lead.

The Kiwis could have scored at least a few more with the chances they had towards the end of the game as the PNG players tired, but a respectable result for PNG and the -1 in the goal difference column could prove valuable come the final game of the tournament.

Watch the highlights here:

 

Game 4: New Caledonia – Fiji 1-2

Even though it’s the first match for both teams, a win here could be the difference between going through or going home in the group of death that is Group B in this tournament.

And it was Fiji who started the brightest and pushed New Caledonia backwards for most of the first half.

They went 1-0 up in the 11th minute, capitalising on an error in the New Caledonia defence. Sairusi Nalaubu snatched the ball from the centre back and with lovely dummy shot, made Rocky Nyikeine fall to the ground before putting it in the almost wide open net.

The New Caledonians came out of the half time break firing on all cylinders and piled the pressure on Fiji.

Fiji managed to keep them at bay and once again took over the play more and more.

But 12 minutes before the full time whistle, the New Caledonians put a good attack together, and Jordan Wetria could send a header into the back of the net for their first goal of the tournament.

One minute before full time the decider would fall. A free kick was swung into the box and Nalaubu rose up in the air and headed the ball into the back of the net.

Watch the highlights here:

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