The first Group C match was contested by Solomon Warriors and AS Tiare Tahiti at Stade Numa Daly. The Tahitian side fought hard but they could not find the net while the Warriors scored their only goal in the second half.
Solomon Warriors needed to find some solutions as they could not count on Tony Kaltack and Loea Mani who were not cleared to play the Champions League. Dennis Ifunaoa started the match as a striker while Gibson Daudau and Molea Tigi were the wingers. Ifunaoa’s moves were being important for his team because it helped his teammates to find some space in Tiare’s defense.
Both teams tried to put some pressure on the opponent’s ball possession and attack with some consistency. Warriors had the best chances in the first half while Tiare Tahiti had some opportunities through set-piece plays as they were not so fast with the ball. Odo Chabi from Benin was the only player from the Tahitian side that tried to speed up the pace in the first half.
The second half started with some emotion as both teams were trying to open the scoreboard. Molea Tigi dribbled his opponent and he was fouled inside the box. Ni-Vanuatu midfielder John Alick’s shot from the penalty spot was saved by AS Tiare Tahiti’s keeper Michel Manea. It was the necessary flame to set some fire in the match.
The Tahitian side started to press and take the control of the match when Solomon Warriors made its first substitution: Lency Norman replaced Molis Junior Gagame that did not have a good performance. This replacement changed the players’ position in Warriors attack. Norman became the striker and Dennis Ifunaoa was moved to the left winger while Molea Tigi started to play as an attacking midfielder.
The Solomon Islands side returned to the match and it did not take so long to score. Gibson Daudau crossed from the right wing and Dennis Ifunaoa headed it to the net.
Tiare Tahiti made some changes after suffering the goal: Heiarii Maperi joined the pitch while Harold Avodagbe from Benin was backed. It was a very intelligent move as Avodagbe controlled the midfield after this change. He delievered nice passes and was the most important player of the team in the last minutes as they were chasing the goal.
Tiare Tahiti tried hard but they could not find the net. At the final whistle the score was 1-0 for Solomon Warriors that are now leading the Group C.
Despite creating good opportunities, Warriors had two clear problems: the distance between the players and the space they left in the middle of the pitch that made Tiare’s life easier in the midfield. John Alick played very well passing the ball but he was not very effective on pressing his opponents. For the Tahitian side, goalkeeper Michel Manea had an outstanding performance while winger Tevairoa Tehuritaua played very well. Avodagbe and Chabi also performed well.
The next Group C match will be contested by AS Magenta and AS Tiare Tahiti on Wednesday. You can watch Ifunaoa’s goal in the video below: