Host nation Papua New Guinea have a major task on their hands if they want to remain in contention for the OFC Nations Cup semi-finals as they get set to take on the defending champions Tahiti in tomorrow’s opening match.
After a late goal gave New Caledonia a share of the points on day one of Group A action, Les Cagous will need to deliver up front against Samoa if they too want to remain in the hunt.
Papua New Guinea took an early lead but struggled to hold onto it despite some sustained periods of possession against the 2012 finalists New Caledonia.
They weren’t helped by the fact their dangerman Tommy Semmy was shown red after picking up a foolish second caution, forcing his side down to 10 men for the final 10 minutes of the match.
It was Semmy’s goal that gave PNG a first half lead, but Les Cagous stormed back into the game just minutes after the striker’s sending off.
His absence will be a loss to the home side against a very fit Tahitian side, who were very rarely tested by the Samoans in their own opening match.
While coach Flemming Serritslev admits losing Semmy for the second game is a set-back he insists his side has enough depth to cover.
“He is one of the most dangerous strikers in the tournament and we will miss him. However, we are not a one-man team.
“There is now an opportunity for some other players to show that they can step up. The team is full of confidence, the nerves from the opening game are gone, we determined to win and I believe we can do it.”
A win for Tahiti would all but secure them a spot in the semi-finals but there is no complacency from Ludovic Graugnard when it comes to taking on a strong side on their own turf.
The French Polynesians produced an impressive attacking display in the first half of their opening match against Samoa, however they were wasteful in front of goal in the second half.
Graugnard is keen to see the side maintain intensity for the entire 90 minutes against PNG.
“I think Papua New Guinea is a very organised side, with a great ability to press and a key player who unfortunately – or fortunately for us – received a red card, the number 18 [Semmy] who we found to be very, very good.”
In the day’s second match-up New Caledonia need a much improved performance if they want to hold of Samoa and pick up the full three points.
Following the draw against their Melanesian rivals, the Caledonians know that goal difference could be crucial in determining their fate.
However, coach Thierry Sardo insists his side isn’t thinking too far ahead and will not take victory against Samoa for granted.
”It would be a mistake to underestimate Samoa. It’s a very important game and we can’t be complacent.
“We will go into the match with full respect to our opponent. By coming back to draw against a good PNG side we showed that we have a strong mentality.
“We should have won the opening match but the morale is good and we are confident that we can achieve our first objective which is to qualify for the semis.”
Meanwhile Samoa needs to build on their second half performance against Tahiti, a period during which they managed to hold the defending champions scoreless.
Samoa coach Scott Easthope has admitted nerves got better of his players in their opening match, and he hopes they will be more settled and confident against New Caledonia.
“We are looking to go out and be as good as we can be in every game, if we can improve from here and get to see more of the better stuff we produced, particularly in the second half against Tahiti, then we are a chance against anyone.”
The OFC would like to acknowledge its partners Telikom PNG, iRENA, and its supporters Dream Inn, Tru Tru Wara and NCDC – The City of Port Moresby.
Papua New Guinea vs. Tahiti
Sir John Guise Stadium
Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
Wednesday, 1 June, 2016
Referee: Nick WALDRON (NZL)
Assistant Referee 1: Mark RULE (NZL)
Assistant Referee 2: Avinesh NARAYAN (FIJ)
Fourth Official: Matt CONGER (NZL)
Papua New Guinea
The players: The cool heads and leadership qualities of Papua New Guinea captain David Muta and experienced striker Nigel Dabingyaba were crucial for the home side, particularly after they went down to 10-men against New Caledonia. Defender Koriak Upaiga was solid at the back while also offering an attacking outlet with his powerful forward runs.
The vital statistics: PNG had only 40 per cent of the ball against New Caledonia and Flemming Serritslev’s men had to rely on counter-attacks for much of the game. They also spent a lot of time in their defensive third against the high pressing Caledonians who forced them into 28 goal kicks.
Coach Quote: “It will be another tough and important game against Tahiti. We will need the backing of the home crowd once again. They were great and they helped our players. I think we earned the home supporters respect, we fought hard and showed a lot of heart against New Caledonia and I think our fans appreciated our effort.”
Squad list:1. Ishmael POLE, (GK), 2. Daniel JOE, 3. Valentine NELSON, 4. Alwin KOMOLONG, 5. Felix KOMOLONG, 6. Patrick AISA, 7. Raymond GUNEMBA, 8. Michael FOSTER, 9. Nigel DABINGYABA, 10. Obert BIKA, 11. Wira WAMA, 12. David MUTA, 13. Roland BALA, 14. Emmanuel SIMON, 15. Philip STEVEN, 16. Jeremy YASASA, 17. Jacob SABUA, 19 Koriak UPAIGA, 20. Ronald WARISAN, (GK) 21. Sammie CAMPBELL, 22. Otto KUSUNAN, 23. Leslie KALAI (GK)
Suspended: 18. Tommy SEMMY
Coach: Flemming Serritslev (DEN)
The players: 23-year-old playmaker Teaonui Tehau was impressive from the outset scoring twice inside the opening five minutes, before providing the assist to Alvin Tehau for Tahiti’s fourth goal. Steevy Chong Hue, who scored his side’s third against Samoa, was also threatening on the left flank throughout the game.
The vital statistics: Tahiti were 3-0 up inside the opening 15 minutes and took a four goal lead into the half-time break against Samoa, but they couldn’t add to their tally in the second half. The French Polynesians also amassed 28 goal attempts but only ten of those were on target.
Coach Quote: “We know that if we can win the second match we will likely be the top of the group but we know that there will be an incredible amount of pressure from PNG because they’re at home.”
Squad list: 1. Mikael ROCHE (GK), 2. Taumihau TIATIA, 4. Ricky AITAMAI, 5. Rainui AROITA, 6. Henri CAROINE, 7. Temarii TINORUA, 8. Tauatua LUCAS, 9. Tauhiti KECK, 10. Teaonui TEHAU, 11. Jay WARREN, 12. Mauarii TEHINA, 13. Steevy CHONG HUE, 14. Matatia PAAMA, 15. HEIMANO BOUREBARE, 16. Bruno TETUANUI (GK), 17. Tamatoa TETAUIRA, 18. Tefai FAEHAU, 19. Vincent SIMON, 20, Alvin TEHAU, 21. Fred TISSO, 22. Nicolas VALLAR.
Coach: Ludovic Graugnard (TAH)
New Caledonia vs. Samoa
Sir John Guise Stadium
Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
Wednesday, 1 June, 2016
Referee: Robinson BANGA (VAN)
Assistant Referee 1: Ravinesh KUMAR (FIJ)
Assistant Referee 2: Hilmon SESE (VAN)
Fourth Official: Joel HOPKEN (VAN)
The players: Cesar Zeoula, Jean-Philippe Saiko and Roy Kayara have offered plenty of attacking thrust in their opener against PNG. Zeoula will have extra motivation to make amends for his missed penalty in the final minute, which would have given his side victory over the hosts.
The vital statistics: New Caledonia had almost 60 per cent of the possession against PNG and produced 19 attempts on goal. However coach Thierry Sardo will demand more accuracy in the final third after only four of those attempts were on target.
Coach Quote: ”We want to win against Samoa to qualify for the semis and secure our passage for the second round of the World Cup qualifiers and after that we can start thinking about winning the OFC Nations Cup. We have a lot of quality players who are confident and motivated. With a bit of luck we could go all the way.”
Squad list: 1. Dimitri PETEMOU, (GK), 2. Judikael IXOEE, 3. Joseph TCHACKO, 4. Georges BEARUNE, 5. Kevin NEMIA, 6. Cedric SANSOT, 7. Joel WAKANUMUNE, 8. Roy KAYARA, 9. Jean-Philippe SAIKO, 10. Cesar ZEOULA, 11. Bertrand KAI, 12. Loic WAKANUMUNE, 13. Jean-Brice WADRIAKO, 14.Jacki MEINDU, 15. Joerisse CEXOME, 16. Jean-Christ WAJOKA, 17. Georges GOPE-FENEPEJ, 18. Emile BEARUNE, 19.Joseph ATHALE, 20. Thomas SCHMIDT (GK) 21. Jefferson DAHITE, 23. Jelen IXOEE, (GK)
Coach: Thierry SARDO (NCL)
The players:Despite very limited opportunities Andrew Mobberley toiled hard in the lone striker role for Samoa and he showed glimpses of his attacking capability. In the second half in particular he did manage to cause a few anxious moments for the Tahitian defence as well as testing goalkeeper Mikael Roche with a well struck effort.
The vital statistics: Samoa hardly saw the ball in their opening match and even more worryingly they quickly gave the ball over when they had it. They turned the ball over 151 times which is the same as Tahiti, who had over 70 per cent of the possession. Scott Easthope’s men grew in confidence in the second half and did manage two shots on goal, one of which was on target.
Coach quote: “It’s a big step up for many of our boys from the national league level in Samoa to this. And I think they felt the pressure as the nerves kicked in during the first game, but they will learn from that and be better it do their second match.”
Squad list: 1. Faalavelave MATAGI (GK), 2. John HALL, 3. Kaipo TAGALOA, 4. Filipo BURETA, 6. Ryan MARTIN, 7. Andrew MOBBERLEY, 8. Cameron MARTIN, 9. Paulo SCANLAN, 10. Desmond FAAIUASO, 12. Mike SAOFAIGA, 13. Lionel TAYLOR, 15. Luki GOSCHE, 16. Marcus ALIMONTI, 17. Joseph TYRELL, 18. Henry PUPI, 19. Lapa TONI, 20. Silao MALO, 21. Samualu MALO, 22. Charlie TAPELU (GK)
Absent: 5. Jarrell SALE, 11. Jai INGHAM, 14. Keone KAPISI, 23. Ted SIKOVI (GK)
Coach: Scott EASTHOPE (NZL)