Host nation Tahiti have won Group B at the OFC U-19 Championship 2022 after a 0-0 draw with Fiji at Stade Pater in Papeete.
New Caledonia have secured top spot in Group C at the OFC U-19 Championships 2022 following a 4-0 victory over Samoa.
Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea’s absence from the first two games has paved the way for many teams to qualify to the quarterfinals. Here are the match reports.
Tahiti v Fiji
Tahiti win the group on goal difference while Fiji also advanced into the final eight as runners-up. The last time these two sides met in this competition was also in Papeete back in 2008.
On that occasion, Tahiti won 2-0 to spark celebrations as they secured their second title but there was little to rejoice after the first 45 minutes.
Both sides struggled to create clear-cut chances in a physical and occasionally tetchy opening period with the best opportunities coming from dead-balls, none of which truly tested either goalkeeper.
With both teams already into the quarter-finals after being awarded wins against Papua New Guinea and Tonga, the second-half struggled to spark into life, with neither side willing to push for a winner.
Nabil Begg’s blocked shot was the only chance in the second period as the game drifted to a stalemate.
The result means Tahiti win Group B on goal difference and they will face either the Cook Islands or Vanuatu in the quarter-finals. Fiji will face Samoa, with both games taking place on Sunday, September 18.
New Caledonia v Samoa
As a result of Vanuatu’s absence from the group stage, both sides have advanced into the final eight, but a hat-trick from Willy Read helped New Caledonia claim first place.
Samoa had the excellence of goalkeeper Joel Bartley to thank for keeping the scores level in the early stages, making fine saves to prevent Claude Forest, Read and Yannick Ipunesso from opening the scoring.
Samoa captain Kyah Cahill then saw his powerful header cleared off the line, an effort his dad, Australian legend Tim Cahill, would have been proud of.
There was however nothing Bartley could do to stop New Caledonia’s opener as Paul Jone hit a powerful long-range effort to break the deadlock.
New Caledonia then doubled their lead on the brink of half-time, Read latching onto a long-ball and lifting over the onrushing Bartley.
The Samoa stopper produced a sensational save to deny Read early in the second half but was then caught out as New Caledonia went out of sight.
Bartley misjudged a sweeping attempt with Read beating him to the ball to slide into an empty net.
Samoa, playing in their first main finals fixture at an OFC U-19 Championship since 2007, had chances to score, Tafunai blazing over and Victor Leddy failing to capitalise on a well worked free-kick.
However, Read put the seal on the victory with his hat-trick goal to rubber-stamp a first-place finish in Group C for New Caledonia.
New Caledonia will now face Group A runners-up Solomon Islands in the quarter-finals on Sunday, September 18 at 1.00pm local time.
Samoa will keep an eye on today’s Group B fixture between Tahiti and Fiji, with the runners-up from that group their opponents on the same day at 9.30am.