Group A: Match 7 - Fiji cruises past Samoa 4-0
Billy Singh's men will take great heart from what was a testing match before they take on Australia in a virtual playoff on Thursday.
All goals were scored in the second half, following another tenacious first half performance from Samoa.
In three matches, David Brand's charges have only conceded one goal from the in the first forty-five minutes.
Although the Fijians dominated possession, the best chances of the first half fell to Samoa.
As they did in their historic win over the Solomon Islands two days earlier, the Samoans were contented to throw men behind the ball and absorb whatever their opposition could muster, relying on the speed and positioning of their forward men for goals.
Once again, captain Filipo Bureta was an epitome of composure and goalkeeper Pasi Schwalger looked assured whenever called upon.
The opportunity of the half fell to midfielder Kiwi Timo, who was quick to capitalize on a slip up in the Fijian defence to set up a one on one chance with Simione Tamanisau.
But under pressure from Fiji sweeper Pene Erenio, Timo's right footed effort inched past the advancing `keeper and the right post.
The commanding presence of Fiji captain Veresa Toma did not seem to worry Samoa's considerably smaller backs, as the former Singaporean based striker was largely unnoticed in the opening stanza.
Instead, the quick touches of midfield trio Salesh Kumar, Taniela Waqa and Laisiasa Gataurua looked most likely to unravel the tight Samoan defence, with the best chance for the Fijians falling to Kumar just before halftime.
After some clever lead up work down the left flank, Kumar was presented with a tough angle to score from, but did well to force Schwalger into a save.
The breakthrough came in the 51st minute when Kumar latched on to a bouncing ball following a scramble in the box.
The vice captains goal eased the pressure on the Fiji, who up until this point were looking likely to become another one of Samoa's prized scalps.
Waisake Sabutu's goal on the hour all but sealed the result for Fiji who started to assume total control of the fixture.
The ill discipline that was slowly creeping into the Samoan game was the cause of Sabutu's first goal. Kiwi Timo slipped a careless pass straight to Veresa Toma who unselfishly layed the ball to Sabutu who made no mistake in beating Schwalger to make the score 2-0.
An own goal by Lolo Siliga Lui and a goal to tournament top scorer Thomas Vulivuli in injury time saw the score finish 4-0, which leaves the men in white the only team capable of preventing the host nation from advancing to the final playoff. - By Benjamin Coonan
Match 7: Samoa vs Fiji / Statistical Review
Full-time score: 0-4 (Fiji)
Half-time score: 0-0
Date/Time: Tuesday, 20 January - 5:00pm (AEST)
Fiji - (15) Salesh Kumar 51'; (8) Waisake Sabutu 57'; og (Sam - 11. Lolosiliga Lui 86'); (9) Thomas Vulivuli 91+
Cautions: Samoa - (17) Otto Hunt 18'; (5) Iupeli Ioane 67' / Fiji - (10) Veresa Toma 43'
Weather: Overcast, warm
Crowd attendance: 1,500
Referee: Charles Ariiotima (Tahiti)
Assistant Referee 1: Michel Angot (Tahiti)
Assistant Referee 2: Michael Mouauri (Cook Islands)
Fourth Official: Peter O'Leary (New Zealand)
Match Commissioner: `Ahongalu Fusimalohi (Tonga)
Referee Inspector: Barry Such (Australia)
Team Line-ups (& Substitutions)
1. Pasi Schwalger (GK)
2. Filipo Bureta (c)
3. Peniamina Timo
5. Iupeli Ioane (-77')
6. Kiwi Timo
10. Bevan Kapisi
12. Michael Toleafoa (-88')
14. Penitito Tumua
15. Lolo Lui
17. Otto Hunt
19. Sio Togamoa (-83')
4. Sakaria Fuimaono (+83')
7. Joseph Hoeflich (+77')
8. Afasene Tusitala
9. Ioapo Ava
11. Ioane Ioane
13. Ki Anufe (+88')
20. Fatuvalu Numia
Coach: David Brand
1. Simione Tamanisau (gk)
3. Ratu Marika Rodu
5. Luke Vidovi
6. Jone Vesikula (-45')
7. Pene Erenio
8. Waisake Sabutu
10. Veresa Toma (c) (-65')
13. Taniela Waqa
15. Salesh Kumar
17. Samuela Vula
18. Laisiasa Gataurua (-80')
2. Lorima Dau (+80')
4. Alvin Avinesh
9. Thomas Vulivuli (+45')
11. Jesoni Takala
12. Esala Ali
14. Osea Vakatalesau (+65')
16. Petero Dauniseka
19. Nicholas Lawrence
20. Afroz Nabi (RGK)
Coach : Billy Singh
Last Modified on 21/01/2004 13:23