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Sunday, September 03, 2006

It's either Vanuatu or Solomons: FIFA Beach Soccer Qualifier final

Either Vanuatu or the Solomon Islands will become the first Pacific Island country to qualify for a FIFA World Championship following the conclusion of Match Day 3 at the FIFA Beach Soccer Qualifier - Tahiti, yesterday.

With the Solomons accounting for the Cook Islands 13-0 in the first match of the day, the hosts needed to topple the unbeaten Vanautu to advance in today's (September 3) final at Temae Beach in Moorea. Four times Tahiti equalized but try as they may, it was not their day with Vanuatu triumphant 5-4.

Derek Malas opened the scoring before Teiva Izal equalized sending the packed stadium crazy. Seule Soromon again but the visitors in front but Izal again drew the teams level soon after. The third period had the 2,000 plus crowd on the edge of their seats as the action shifted from end to end with each looking for the advantage.

Jean Emmanuel Maleb nudged Vanuatu ahead poking past Pierrot Malfati, but Raimana Lee Fung Kuee blasted past the impressive Chikau Mansale. Seimata Chilia scored making it 4-3 before Izal completed his hat-trick from the restart to again draw the teams level.

Finally it was Soromon who broke the deadlock a minute from the end to eliminate Tahiti and allow Melanesian neighbours the Solomon Islands to sneak into the final.

The Solomons sent out an ominous warning to their final opponents with their clinical dismantling of the young Cooks side. Richard Anisua (5), Henry Koto (3), Gideon Omokirio (3), and James Naka (2) shared the goals as the Bilikiki Beach Soccer Boys dictated the pace of the game and rarely allowed their opposition to play.

The final will be a clash in styles pitting the pacy Vanuatu side against the controlled and deliberate Solomons.

"This is an exciting time for our Confederation, today's matches have shown us the talent and enthusiasm for beach soccer is already here. The qualification of either Vanuatu or the Solomons could also be the catalyst for an explosion in the popularity of the sport in Oceania," said OFC President Reynald Temariii

"We would love for all our Member Associations to have a beach soccer pitch in their own countries to fast-track the development of the sport" Temarii continued.

OFC General Secretary General Secretary Tai Nicholas fully endorsed the President's comments and added.

"The decision to host our qualifier in our own region has paid off, you only have to see the number of children who invade the pitch after the matches to realize the potential we have in this form of the game"

The final is set to kick off at 14:00 (Tahiti time) with a playoff between Tahiti and the Cook Islands as a curtain-raiser.

Results - Match Day 3 (2 September 2006)
Solomon Islands 13
Cook Islands 0

Solomon Islands - 1. Fred Hale; 3. Gideon Omokirio; 4. Eddie Ngaitini; 5. Richard Anisua; 6. George Kwanae; 7. Henry Koto; 8. Slyvester Rogy; 9. Joe Luwi; 10. James Naka; 21. Paul Huia

Goals - Anisua (5), Koto (3), Omokirio (3), Naka (2)

Standings (after Match Day 3)
1. Vanuatu
2. Solomon Islands
3. Tahiti
4. Cook Islands

Leading Scorers (after Match Day 3)
Seule Soromon (Vanuatu) 7
Henry Koto (Solomon Islands) 6
James Naka (Solomon Islands) 5
Richard Anisua (Solomon Islands) 5
Thierry Qaeze (Tahiti) 4
Mousa Sam (Vanuatu) 4
Jean Emmanuel Maleb (Vanuatu) 4
Seimata Chilia (Vanuatu) 4

Source: Oceania Football

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