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Tahiti stuns in OFC opener

It has been goals galore so far at the OFC U-19 Championship 2022 in Tahiti on a day when only one of three scheduled matches took place.

Vanuatu’s match against New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea’s against Fiji did not take place as both Vanuatu and PNG had advised the OFC that they would not be playing their first games.

OFC is yet to make a decision on what happens to these two games. Meanwhile, a stunning second-half display saw Tahiti blow away opponents Tonga 8-0 in the host nation’s opening game.

Mathis Boube’s six-minute hat-trick stole the show as the 2018 runner-ups began their 2022 campaign in style. Tahiti took the lead after 25 minutes, Manuarii Shan heading home after sublime work out wide from the tricky Boube.

Players observing a minute of silence before the start of the game. It has been goals galore so far at the OFC U-19 Championship 2022 in Tahiti on a day when only one of three scheduled matches took place. Picture: OFC

Despite the setback, Tonga frustrated their hosts in the opening 45 and nearly equalised on two occasions. Herick Funaki almost made Tahiti stopper Anapa Debruyne pay for his overly relaxed goalkeeping before Debruyne was called into action again, this time bravely diving at the feet of Tomasi Teu to deny Tonga a leveller.

Tonga have not won a game at this stage of the competition since a 2-0 triumph over Papua New Guinea in 2001 and were on the hunt of an upset. But a bizarre goal early in the second period set Tahiti on their way to a commanding victory.

Herehau Bennett’s attempt appeared to be drifting wide before the unaware Ulukaulupe ‘Akolo deflected the ball back into his path, with the Tahitian bundling the ball past Moala for 2-0.

As Tonga tired, Boube took full advantage for Tahiti, with a hat-trick putting the game to bed. His first was a powerful half-volley which cannoned in off the crossbar, before two well taken finishes completed his personal treble.

Hauroa Morgant’s penalty-kick, and close-range finishes from Tekaki Sangue and Kahutia Pautu put gloss on Tahiti’s win, with the hosts next scheduled to face Papua New Guinea on Sunday, September 11 (Tahiti time).

Tonga, meanwhile will aim to take their first-half positives into their clash with Fiji on the same day.

 

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