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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Judd Molea keep Solomon hopes alive with 1-1 draw against New Zealand

The higlight match of Day 1 at the opening of the Under 20 Oceania Championships yesterday in Waitakere lived up to expectations when Solomon Islands Mamula held the mights of New Zealand to a 1-1 draw, keeping both teams chances of a world cup berth in Canada alive.

In what is described as an entertaining match with some prominent names in the New Zealand side, Solomon Mamula ensured to stick to their coach's words earlier in the week that they will put on a good performance against New Zealand and they would not be intimidated with the New Zealand line-up. Also, earlier in the week New Zealand Coach confidently stated that history won't repeat itself, refering to when the New Zealand side was beaten by Solomon Islands and Fiji at Lawson Tama in 2005.

The game only took 28 minutes into the first half when Solomons playmaker Judd Molea stunned New Zealand with a sweetly-struck free kick to take a 1 nil lead. However, the Solomon boys lead was shortlived only five minutes later when Sam Jenkins powerfully nodded home Leo Shin's cross to make it 1-1.

New Zealand were expected to kick-on in the second half at Trusts Stadium but were instead rocked just three minutes after the resumption when captain Jack Pelter saw red for his second bookable offence, a seemingly innocuous challenge that clearly wasn’t seen that way by Papua New Guinea referee Job Minan Ponis.

Both teams could have extended their leads late in the second half only to denied by the wood work or by the referee's call. The game ended in a 1-1 draw.

In other matches yesterday, Fiji thrashed a hapless Samoan outfit 7-0 while a clash of the French speaking territories saw New Caledonia defeating Tahiti 2-1. Solomon Islands will face New Caledonia tomorrow after their rest day today.

Pictures by Ben Campbell (

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