Group A: Match 9 - PNG, Samoa draw 4-4

SYDNEY: Samoa and Papua New Guinea bid farewell to the Group A OFC Men's Olympic Games qualifiers by producing an end-to-end goal feast in their round five curtain raiser at Marconi Stadium last night.

A last minute goal to Brisbane based striker Alex Davani ensured that the honours were even as the score finished at 4-4. The draw meant Samoa finished in third place behind Australia and Fiji and ahead of more fancied teams, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea - a remarkable achievement.

The hero of the match was again Samoan striker Richmond Desmond Faaiuaso, who played a hand in three of Samoa's goals, scoring one. Other scorers for David Brand's side were Michael Toleafoa, Kiwi Timo and Filipo Bureta.

Papua New Guinea led the game on one occasion and had braces from Davani and left winger Nathaniel Lepani to thank for their goals.

The Samoans had their opponents' measure in the first stanza, displaying a more attacking brand of football than what audiences have become accustomed to in their three previous outings.
David Brand's men still relied heavily on young prodigy Faaiuaso, but looked comfortable throughout most of the first forty-five minutes.

After coming close to scoring on several occasions, it was Faaiuaso who turned provider for the match opener. The standout player of the tournament showed great composure in holding off PNG defender Brian Tuhiana to send in a low cross that left strike partner Toleafoa with a simple tap in. Samoa richly deserved their 1-0 lead, but carelessly lost their advantage in the closing minutes of the half.

Seldom has a match turned as dramatically as it did when Papua New Guinea snuck two goals before the break. Having earlier missed a simple chance to give his side the lead, PNG captain Davani stepped up to the spot to convert the penalty that he won after being brought down by Ioane Ioane on 39 minutes. The leveler brought confidence to Robert Popat's charges, who were staring down the barrel of leaving Marconi without a point to their names.

Lepani's strike two minutes later gave PNG the lead, a situation that seemed in comprehendible all of ten minutes earlier. Lepani was on hand to drive home the remnants of Richard Sios' shot from distance and made no mistake to take his side to the break leading 2-1.

The tenacity that brought the Samoans their early lead was evident again at the resumption of the second half. Faaiuaso's excellent showing finally brought goal when the pint-sized marksman ran onto to a tidy through ball from Bureta to draw the Samoans back on level terms.

In a further three minutes, the men in blue had their lead back when Faaiuaso put Timo through on goal. The Sogi midfielder neatly tucked away Faaiuaso's precise ball to take the score to 3-2. But the drama was far from over.

Lepani netted his second of the match and third of tournament courtesy of a neat cross from the left by Davani which leveled the scores once more. For all PNG's hard work, a lackadaisical example of goalkeeping handed the ascendancy back to their opponents.

Captain Bureta lobbed in what looked a regulation free kick from 35 metres, only to see it go untested into the PNG net. The Samoans looked the have the game won until just moments before the finish when Davani bobbed up once more in the box and calmly slotted past Pasi Schwalger to hand his side their only point of the tournament.

Match 9: Samoa vs Papua New Guinea / Statistical Review

Full-time score: 4-4 (draw)
Half-time score: 1-2 (PNG)

Date/Time: Thursday, 22 January - 5:00pm (AEST)

Samoa - (12) Michael Toleafoa 26'; (16) Richmond Desmond Faaiuaso 55'; (6) Kiwi Timo 57'; (2) Filipo Bureta 67
PNG - (6) Alexander Davani 38' pen, 91+'; (10) Nathaniel Lapani 40'; 65

Cautions: Samoa - (16) Richmond Desmond Faaiuaso 30'
Expulsions: none

Weather: Overcast, warm
Crowd attendance: 800

Match Officials:
Referee: Ron Wilbur (Vanuatu)
Assistant Referee 1: Tony Meltetamat (Vanuatu)
Assistant Referee 2: Tevita Vea (Tonga)
Fourth Official: Lencie Fred (Vanuatu)

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
6. Kiwi Timo
10. Bevan Kapisi
11. Ioane Ioane
12. Michael Toleafoa (-90')
14. Penitito Tumua (-62')
15. Lolo Lui
16. Richmond Des Faaiuaso
17. Otto Hunt (-75')
4. Sakaria Fuimaono (+75')
5. Iupeli Ioane
7. Joseph Hoeflich
8. Afasene Tusitala
9. Ioapo Ava
13. Ki Anufe (+62')
18. Ted Losi Sikovi
19. Sio Togamoa (+90')
20. Fatuvalu Numia (RGK)

Coach: David Brand

1. Ludwig Bai (GK)
4. Ravu Habuka (-27')
5. Brian Tuhiana
6. Alexander Davani (c)
8. Abraham Enoch (-57')
9. Richard Sios (-59')
10. Nathaniel Lepani
13. Russell Inai
16. Kialou Porou
18. Eric Komeng
22. Ricky Mesak
20. Richard Lapan (RGK)
7. Sovera Guti
12. Adrian Komu (+59')
14. Armstrong Peka (+57')
15. Nathaniel Pomat
17. Maurie Wasi (+27')
19. Selan Lelai
21. Chique Posman

Coach: Robert Popat


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