Match 1: Spirited Fijians go down to PNG

Papua New Guinea emerged 2-0 victors in this yesterday's opening match of the 2004 OFC Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament against hosts Fiji at Govind Park in Ba.

However, the experienced Papua New Guinea team were fortunate to take the three points, outplayed on the day by an impressive Fiji outfit.

The Matildas, who had the bye, made the one-hour trip to Ba from their base in Nadi for the first time since arriving in Fiji last Thursday to watch the game.

Papua New Guinea, the only one of the developing nations to have competed in every senior women's Oceania qualifiers to date, played below their usual standard, lacking their usual passing moves and attacking combinations.

The Fijians, big in physical stature and power, were a vastly improved side from when Australia last played them in 1998.

The home side displayed penetrating passing combinations to create good scoring opportunities consistently throughout the game, and were very unlucky not to convert that dominance onto the scoreboard.

Unfortunately, Fiji gave away two goals to the opposition from silly errors in the defence.
After some early enterprising play in attack from Fiji, it was the patchy Papua New Guinea side that snatched the lead against the run of play midway through the first half.

With the Fiji defence seemingly able to clear the ball from the danger area following a half-chance to Papua New Guinea, the defender decided to back-heel the ball to the goalkeeper, allowing Papua New Guinea's Tokoe Norrie to sneak in and put the loose ball into the back of the net.

Fijian attacker Mereilisoni Adireki then had another two great chances on goal before half-time without reward, and then five minutes after the interval, Kinisimere Vanua drilled her shot inches wide.

The Fijians continued to pressure the PNG defence throughout the second half in search of the deserved equaliser but frustratingly the ball would fly just wide of the target or was saved by the keeper. Midway through the half, Fiji's Unaisi Moce was unable to break the drought after two great chances within two minutes.

With around 15 minutes remaining, Papua New Guinea all but put the game beyond the reach of Fiji with their second goal of the match. Nellie Taman was on hand to put the ball away following a misunderstanding and collision between the goalkeeper and her own defender.

The action continues on Thursday when Australia plays their first game of the tournament against Papua New Guinea. The winner of the Oceania qualifiers advances directly to the Athens 2004 Olympic Games in August. - by Janene Mar (ASA)

2004 OFC Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament - Govind Park, Ba, Fiji, 2-6 March

ROUND 1 - Match One: Tuesday, 2 March
Fiji vs Papua New Guinea
Australia bye

Match Statistics Full-time score: Papua New Guinea 2:0 Fiji
Half-time score: Papua New Guinea 1:0 Fiji
Goal-scorers: PNG - (4) Tokoe Norrie 22'; (14) Nellie Taman 74'
Cautions: FIJI - (9) Mereilisoni Adireki 41'; (10) Naomi Regu 44' / PNG - (13) May Lois 14'; (5) Julie Alau 32'
Expulsions: none
Crowd: 200 estimate
Weather: Overcast, humid, some rain, high twenties (Celsius)
Pitch conditions: good
Match officials: Referee: Hong Eun Ah (Korea), Assistant Referee 1: Agape Petaia (Samoa), Assistant Referee 2: Hongjuan Liu (China PR), Fourth Official: Bentla D'Coth, Match Commissioner: Johnny Tinsley Lulu (Vanuatu), Referee Inspector: Yves Taga (Vanuatu)

Team line-ups & Substitutions

Fiji

20. Paulini Ragani (GK)
2. Sera Talanavula
5. Asena Reba Ratu
6. Kasaya Lovodua
7. Kinisimere Vanua
9. Mereilisone Adireki (-89')
10. Naomi Regu
13. Lavenia Yalovi
14. Shirlyn Singh (-62')
15. Alisi Meredani (-33')
16. Unaisi Moce
subs:
1. Ro Akisi Nayasa (RGK)
3. Miriama Nawaqalevu
4. Kinisimere Selau
8. Katarine Sanmarie (+62')
11. Finau Vulivuli (+89')
12. Lusiana Rokobouta
17. Kini Wilson Ratoto (+33 `)
18. Annabel Rao

Coach: Tony Buesnel

Papua New Guinea
1. Roxanne Komeng (GK)
3. Lydia Banabas (-62')
4. Tokoe Norrie (-26')
5. Julie Alau
6. Miriam Lanta
8. Judith S. Michael
11. Nakare Nombe
13. May S. Loisi
14. Nellie Taman
15. Jocelyn Komeng
16. Margaret Aka (-88')
subs:
2. Regina Sui (+88')
9. Deslyn Siniu (+26')
12. Tracey Kig (+62')
20. Diana Tasion (RGK)

Coach: Francis Moiyap

Points Table: Teams P W D L F A Dif Pts
Papua New Guinea1 1 0 0 2 0 +2 3
Australia 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Fiji 1 0 0 1 0 2 -2 0
* points after round 1

REMAINING MATCHES
ROUND 2 - Match Two: Thursday, 4 March
Australia vs Papua New Guinea
Fiji bye

ROUND 3 - Match Three: Saturday, 6 March
Fiji vs Australia
PNG bye


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