December 7, 2023

Pacific Games Matchday 1 roundup: Plenty of goals

The first set of matches have been played at this year’s Pacific Games in Honiara.

Solomon Islands beat Samoa in their opening game of the Pacific Games (Photo: Pacific Games media)

And it was a good start for the hosts Solomon Islands as both their men and women’s teams came away with wins.

The men’s side struggled against Samoa, coming away with only a 1-0 win in their opening game.

They had to wait until the second half for the decisive goal, when substitute John Orobulu put the ball in the back of the net.

Head Coach Felipe Vega-Arango was not happy with his team’s performance in the win.

“At half-time I told them that we needed some energy, so I had to make a couple of changes. Despite that, that’s a win, that’s three points and we have to forget this game and look forward for the next one,” Arango told the organizers website.

In the other matches in the men’s tournament, New Caledonia and Fiji took expected wins.

New Caledonia beat Tonga 7-0, with Lues Waya getting himself a hat-trick.

While Fiji took care of Northern Marianas, beating them 10-0.

The final game in the men’s tournament, between Papua New Guinea and Tuvalu was cancelled due to travel problems for Tuvalu. That game should be registered as a 3-0 win to PNG, but has so far not been so on the official tournament website.

Solid PNG win

In the women’s tournament, the Papua New Guinea team actually got ot plau, and got off to a great start.

The reigning champions dominated against American Samoa, and took an expected early lead, on their way to a 9-0 win.

PNG captain Ramona Padio was the stand out player as she scored six goals.

“I’m very happy because I know that my family and my country is supporting me”, Padio told the organizers website.

PNG took a solid win over American Samoa (Photo: Pacific Games media)

Perhaps the best game of the first round was Tahiti against Samoa. Samoa took an early 2-0 lead after only ten minutes. Then Tahiti pulled one back after half an hour, before equalizing with only eight minutes to go.

But it wasn’t over there, as Samoa got a penalty in the 87th minute, which Jayda Stewart took care of, to give Samoa a hard-fought win.

“The game got stretched a little bit in the second half, it was anyone’s game. We got the penalty and then we capitalised on that one for the winning goal. I’m really proud of the girls and the way they played today with the heat, with the conditions, they adapted and they overcame,” Samoa coach Juan Jose Chan said.

In the other matches, Solomon Islands had to wait until the 81st minute to find a winning goal against Vanuatu, with Jemina David being netting the game’s only goal, while New Caledonia took a somewhat surprisingly large 5-2 win over the Cook Islands.

The football continues with matches on Monday local time.

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