The OFC Futsal Nations Cup group stage had their last four matches and now the decisive part of the tournament is nearing. Next Friday in New Caledonia we will have the two most important matches of the competition until the present moment: no surprises in both groups happened, since New Zealand and New Caledonia topped the Group A and in the Group B Solomon Islands and Tahiti will be in the semi-finals.
In the last round of group stage matches we had until now the biggest goal margin – and also the game with most goals of the tournament -, a decisive match for the hosts against New Zealand, the first win of Vanuatu in the competition and a hard fought match of Solomon Islands against Fiji.
Tahiti started the day in Arène du Sud with a very big win against Tonga – indeed, very big. The Tahitian side demolished the debutants in the tournament by a hummiliating 24-2 margin. Tonga could manage to score two more goals in the competition and their number 10 Laulea Taufa turned into the top goalscorer of Tonga Futsal in history with one more added in this match – 3 in total. Conceding 24 goals is something the players from the Kingdom will really need to improve. Olivier Hirihiri scored five of those and four others came from own goals from Semisi Otukolo – that scored incredible two own goals -, Hemaloto Polovili and even the goalscorer Laulea Taufa.
In the second match of the day Vanuatu recorded their first win of the tournament with an easy 10-3 victory over American Samoa. Note for the first goals ever for the American Samoans in a senior Futsal tournament – the first from the young Gabriel Taumua and the other two coming from Takai Pouli and Austin Kaleopa. The hattrick from the Ni-Vanuatu number 8 Sandy Mesau helped his side to record their first win in the competition.
In the most entertaining match of the day, the current champions Solomon Islands faced Fiji; the Fijians needed a win if they wanted still to qualify for the semi-finals – despite their duty was almost impossible due the big margin of goals Tahiti scored against Tonga. Fiji displayed a very good defensive formation that made it dificult for Solomon Islands firepower. The Fijians scored first with a shot by Shahil Dave, but just after scoring the deadlock was broken by the Kurukuru with a goal coming from Alwin Hou.
Even before the half-time, James Egeta scored for the reigning champions and completed the comeback. In the second half Charles Otainao scored the third and after a superb shot from their defensive box of Osifelo, the Fijian goalkeeper Akuila Mateisuva unfortunately sent the ball to his own nets. The final result gave the Solomon Islands their third victory in three games.
Despite losing, Fiji can be praised for their performance against Solomon Islands – after losing by 11-1 against Tahiti they could reduce the best team in the group to only 4 goals. Most of this result is due the great performance of the goalkeeper Akuila Mateisuva and the captain Setareki Hughes.
In the final match of the group stage, the hosts New Caledonia counted with their local fans to face New Zealand. The Futsal Whites shown their strength against the Cagous winning them by 4-2. The hosts went in front in the scoreline through a goal of Jean-Philippe Sele, but not much after the veteran Micky Malivuk scored for the New Zealand team to equalize the match.
New Zealand’s most important player, Dylan Manickum, scored a brace still in the first-half to make it 3-1 – the second a very beautiful goal with a class finish. The other two goals from the match came just before the end of the game, Josh Margetts added another for the Futsal Whites and Aser Xuma scored a consolation goal for the locals to give the final numbers in the score.
After a very entertaining three-days competition in the group stage, we are approaching the decision of the tournament: the semi-finals will tell which teams will compete at the grand final, the grand-finalists will battle for not for the trophy, but as well for a spot in the next year FIFA Futsal World Cup.
Not only the semi-final contests will be played next Friday (01/11) in New Caledonia: the 5-8th position playoff will take place in the first matches of the day: American Samoa will face Fiji, while Vanuatu will face Tonga. Both the winners will contest for the 5th place in the competition, while the losers will play for the 7th place. It is good initiative by Oceania Football Confederation to introduce these additional matches to the tournament – it will give more game time to nations that rarely get international exposure as Tonga and American Samoa. Currently Tonga does not have a Futsal National League in its nation, so these more two matches in the tournament are a huge chance for them to look for better days in the sport.
Top Goalscorers of OFC Nations Cup before the Semi-Finals:
🇳🇿 Dylan Manickum – 6 goals
🇵🇫 Olivier Hirihiri – 6 goals
🇵🇫 Teaonui Tehau – 6 goals
🇳🇿 Micky Malivuk – 5 goals