October 2, 2023

OFC World Cup qualifiers: Round 3 roundup

The final group stage matches have been played and we have our semi finalists.

Ian Kahu of the Solomon Islands looks to beat his marker in the game against the Cook Islands. Photo credit: OFC Media

Game 1: Solomon Islands – Tahiti 3-1

A hattrick from Solomon Islands youngster Raphael Lea’i helped Solomon Islands to this win, in what was Tahiti’s first match of the tournament.

After 20 minutes the Solomon Islands took the lead as Lea’i did it all himself after receiving the ball 30 meters from goal. He dribbled past two Tahitian defenders before slotting the ball home.

Tahiti pegged them back only six minutes later as Alvin Tehau scored from close range after a corner kick that was cleared away, was recycled by the Tahitians and Tehau could head the ball into the net from five meters out.

After half time the Solomon Islands never looked back. A counter attack after seven minutes of play saw Lea’i all alone with the goalkeeper and the youngster kept his cool and put the ball into the back of the net.

Six minutes into the added time Lea’I put the match to bed as he put the ball into the open net following a well worked Solomons attack.

That means the Solomon Islands win the group ahead of Tahiti.

Game 2: Fiji – Papua New Guinea 1-2

This match would decide who would follow New Zealand through to the semi finals of the qualifiers.

Fiji took the lead on a counter-attack after 12 minutes, and a low cross found Tevita Waranaivalu.

Five minutes before half time goal scorer Waranaivalu was sent off for what looked like an elbow to the face of a PNG player on the middle of the pitch with the ball nowhere near.

A minute into added time Ati Kepo decided to do it all himself. Running with the ball from 40 meters out, running past a Fijian defender and putting the ball into the bottom corner.

Just after the hour mark PNG made their advantage count as Tommy Semmy was played through. He slotted the ball home into the far corner, via the fingers of the goalkeeper.

Papua New Guinea will play the Solomon Islands in the semi finals.

Game 3: New Zealand – New Caledonia 7-1

Despite being out of the tournament New Caledonia became the first side to score against New Zealand in the tournament.

But it was the All Whites who took the lead following a low cross that Alex Greive backheeled into the net with style, after eight minutes of play.

Only five minutes later New Caledonia would break New Zealand’s clean sheet streak as Jean-Philippe Saïko floated a header into the back of the net, following an inch perfect cross.

A clumsy challenge by a New Caledonian defender saw NZ get a penalty ten minutes before the break and Logan Rogerson made no mistake, sending the goalkeeper one way and the ball the other.

A minute into added time Grieve got his second as a through ball looked to be in control by a Caledonian defender, but he slipped and Grieve could sneak in behind him and make no mistake one-on-one with the goalkeeper.

In the second half Andre De Jong had an easy task putting a rebound from a Chris Wood shot into the back of an empty net for NZ’s fourth of the match, while Bill Tuiloma headed a corner into the goal ten minutes before the final whistle.

Superstar Chris Wood also wanted to join the party and put two goals past the Caledonian goalkeeper in the final seven minutes of the match.

New Zealand will play Tahiti in the semi final.

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