October 2, 2023

Tahiti win Beach Soccer Nations Cup

Hosts Tahiti have deservedly retained their OFC Beach Soccer Nations Cup title with a clinical 7-0 win over the Solomon Islands in the final at the Aorai Tini Hau Stadium in Papeete.

Tahiti celebrate winning the OFC Beach Soccer Nations Cup 2023 Final, Tahiti v Solomon Islands. (Photo: Shane Wenzlick/Phototek)

In front of a capacity crowd in windy conditions the Tiki Toa showed all their big game experience and proven class to defeat the four times former champions and secure their place representing Oceania at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup to be played in Dubai in February.

The start was always going to be crucial, and the two times Beach Soccer World Cup final finalists got off to a humdinger. Tahiti almost scored in the first five seconds when Abraham Bird was forced into making a brilliant save to deny Patrick Tepa. Twenty seconds later however the home side were in front, when Heirauarii Salem scrambled home after the Solomons defence failed to clear.

It was a rocking start from a rock star team who scored their second in the 4^th minute with a thundering drive from Tamatoa Tetauira and a third a minute later when Salem scored his second.

The Solomon Islands players were stunned but they were able to regroup and put the former world goalkeeper of the year Jonathan Torohia under pressure on a couple of occasions late in the first period.

3-0 down after the opening period the Solomon Islanders needed to strike first in the second spell to get back into the game. But it was the hosts who scored to effectively end the match as a contest with a brilliant strike from an acute angle in the 14^th minute from Rainui Tze-Yu. Goals to Tearii Labaste and Teaonui Tehau soon followed as Tahiti asserted total control.

Albert Bobby grazed the post and crossbar for the Solomon Islands, but they just couldn’t find the back of the net. From a free kick Tehau scored his second before the end of the second period and the match was turning into a rout.

A goalless final stanza followed before the celebrations began for the hosts.

Tahitian goalkeeper Jonathan Torohia was named goalkeeper of the tournament while Fiji’s Gabiriele Matanisiga won the golden boot with 12. Tahiti’s Heirauarii Salem was named player of the tournament.

Tahiti captain Raimana Li Fung Kuee says the start was key for them. We had a good beginning we scored quickly, and it was good for confidence. We played the game of the tournament, we played well.” Li Fung Kuee said.

It will be the 7th time Tahiti has represented OFC at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup.

Fiji secured third place, thumping Tonga 12-0.

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