Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea clashed at the Al-Arabi Stadium in Doha, Qatar, for a place in the final of the World Cup qualifiers. In an eventful match, the Solomons secured the victory and advanced to meet New Zealand or Tahiti in the final.
The first opportunity of the game came from Ati Kepo‘s feet, causing danger to the Solomon Islands defense. On the other side, the Solomon Islands were in danger from Raphael Lea’i down the right wing. The first goal of the match was scored by Alwin Komolong, after a free-kick taken by Tommy Semmy.
The Solomon Islands were not discouraged by the goal conceded, and continued to maintain their good level of play. Alwin Hou had a chance to tie the game, but the ball was saved by Ronald Warisan.
Papua New Guinea suffered a major loss when Daniel Joe had to be replaced through injury. Koriak Upaiga came on to play in his place. Within the next minute Alwin Hou scored with his left foot to equalize the match.
Things got even worse for the Kapuls when Alwin Komolong brought down Raphael Lea’i inside the box and the referee awarded a penalty kick. Fortunately for Papua New Guinea, Micah Lea’alafa‘s shot stopped at the post. Other bad news for the Solomon Islands was Javin Wae‘s injury late in the first half – forcing coach Felipe Vega-Arango to put Leon Kofana on the field for the second half.
With the tension growing and the score tied, both teams started making too many mistakes. Ati Kepo had a chance to score in the first minutes of the second half, but his header was saved by Phillip Mango. Both coaches tried to change the course of things. For the Kapuls, Joshua Talau replaced Koriak Upaiga, while Jerry Donga breathed new life into the Solomon Islands midfield by replacing William Komasi.
Alwin Hou was on a good day, and took a good opportunity to put the Solomon Islands ahead by scoring his second goal of the match. Unfortunately, he was subsequently injured and replaced by Gagame Feni. Vega-Arango’s team increased their lead to two goals when Raphael Lea’i’s shot found the net in the 71st minute.
With a big disadvantage on the scoreboard, Marcos Gusmão decided to make his last change in the Kapuls’ team. Emmanuel Simon was replaced by Yagi Yasasa, in an attempt to make the team more offensive. In the final minutes, Papua New Guinea managed to score on a lucky shot by Ati Kepo – but it was not enough. At the final whistle, the Solomon Islands won by 3-2. You can check the goals of the match by clicking here.
Solomon Islands will meet New Zealand or Tahiti in World Cup qualifiers final. The match is scheduled to take place on Wednesday at Al-Arabi Stadium.