It was a mixed up start to the OFC U-19 Championship 2022 in Tahiti as Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea opted not to play in their opening fixtures. The reason behind this remains a mystery.
Vanuatu had been due to play New Caledonia in the first Group C clash on Thursday, September 8 at 2pm local time, while Papua New Guinea were scheduled to play the tournament’s first Group B match against Fiji on the same day at 5pm local time.
The matter is now being referred to the appropriate bodies. While the drama in Group C was taking place, New Zealand and the Solomon Islands made a flying start.
New Zealand delivered an early reminder of their OFC U-19 Championship 2022 title credentials with a commanding 8-0 win over the Cook Islands while the Solomon Islands cruised to a 6-0 win over American Samoa. Here are the match reports:
New Zealand v Cook Islands
Kian Donkers’ four-goal haul, a brace from Oliver Colloty and goals from Jay Herdman and Oliver Fay saw the 2018 champions pick up a convincing win to start their title defence in Tahiti. Donkers got the ball rolling early, hammering home from close range after just two minutes.
Cook Islands goalkeeper Ngereine Maro did his best to keep the scoreline down with stunning saves to deny Herdman, Donkers and Jackson Manuel before New Zealand took control.
Donkers scored two similar goals in quick succession before Herdman, denied several times previously by the defiant Maro, finally got his name on the scoresheet.
Everton O’Leary was then hauled down in the box, with Donkers scoring his fourth of the game from the penalty spot to give New Zealand a 5-0 half-time advantage.
Midway through the second-half and another penalty saw New Zealand stretch their lead to six, substitute Colloty slotting home from 12 yards, before fellow replacement Fay made it 7-0 with a low strike from the edge of the box.
Colloty made it eight after Wilson Souphanthavong’s sublime display of dribbling laid the ball on a plate as New Zealand saw out the final few minutes of an imposing triumph.
New Zealand will look to continue their form against American Samoa on Saturday, September 10.
Solomon Islands v American Samoa
A hat-trick from Paul Francis helped the Solomon Islands to a comfortable 6-0 win over American Samoa. Alden Suri scored a brace while Barrie Limoki also found the back of the net as Jerry Allen’s side enjoyed a perfect start to their campaign.
American Samoa did their best to frustrate Solomon Islands early on, with goalkeeper Penieli Atu even denying Limoki from the penalty spot .
However, the Solomons soon took a deserved lead, Francis scoring the opening goal of the competition and he doubled his team’s advantage shortly after, sweeping home after good work from Limoki.
Alden Suri then stretched the scoreline to 3-0, cutting inside to place a left-footed finish beyond Atu, just before the first-half drinks break at a warm Stade Fautaua.
A refreshed American Samoa then tested Solomons keeper Junior Petua, Kelvin Seong’s header forcing a comfortable save, before a well-placed header from Limoki made it 4-0 at the interval.
American Samoa stopper Atu made some smart stops to keep the Solomon Islands at bay in the opening stages of the second-half.
However, this resolve was eventually broken by Francis’s hat-trick goal before Suri bagged his second goal, finishing off a great run from Junior Rocky, to make it 6-0, which is how the scoring finished.
Solomon Islands will now look to continue their winning form against the Cook Islands on Saturday, September 10.