The Group B match between Ifira Black Bird and AS Pirae in the OFC Champions League at the Freshwater Stadium in Port Vila was filled with excitement and drama from the beginning. Both teams were eager to secure a victory and improve their chances of advancing to the semifinals.
The match started off lively, with both sides creating opportunities to score. However, the momentum shifted dramatically when Ifira defender Alphonse Lency was shown a straight red card for striking an opponent, a foolish act that put his team at a disadvantage. Despite being reduced to ten men, Ifira showed resilience and continued to push forward.
Ifira came close to opening the scoring when John Thomas wasted a chance, only to be denied by Tevaitini Teumere, who cleared the ball off the line. However, their persistence paid off in the first half when John Wohale, the strong midfielder, scored a header following an excellent cross from Jordy Tasip. The goal sent the home crowd into raptures as Ifira Black Bird took the lead.
In the second half, AS Pirae, the Tahitian champions, came back strongly. They dominated possession, searching for an equalizer and desperately needing a win to secure their spot in the semifinals after an impressive victory over Tiga Sport. However, it was Ifira that defied the odds and extended their lead. Samuel Kaloros found the back of the net with a header in the 58th minute, taking advantage of a failed clearance by goalkeeper François Decoret.
The resilient Ifira team continued to pose a threat on the counter-attack, even as Pirae maintained control of the game. The Tahitians did not give up and managed to pull one back through substitute Thibault Pito’s excellent finish over goalkeeper Andreas Duch in the 84th minute. The goal injected renewed hope into the Pirae side.
Despite their best efforts, the local team, Ifira, was unable to hold onto their lead until the end. In the dying moments of the match, Ariiura Labaste scored a late equalizer, assisted once again by Thibault Pito. The goal salvaged a crucial point for AS Pirae, putting them in a favorable position to proceed to the next round, needing only a draw in their final match against Papua New Guinea’s Hekari United.
Ifira Black Bird, on the other hand, still has a chance to qualify but will need to defeat Tiga Sport in their final match if they want to keep their dream of progressing to the semifinals alive. The stakes are high, and the outcome of their last match will determine their fate in the tournament.