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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Solomons Soccer team sets up a semi-final tussle with New Caledonia while Fiji meets Vanuatu

The two upcoming Mens semi-final matches in the Samoa South Pacific Games soccer tournament has been confirmed after New Caledonia held current champions and favourites Fiji to a 1-1 draw a while ago.

Pool 1 winner and current title holder Fiji (determined from Goals For) will now meet Pool 2 runner up Vanuatu, while Pool 2 winner Solomon Islands will tussle with Pool 1 runner up and 2003 SPG Silver medalist New Caledonia in the other semi-final.

In what looks to be a repetition of Fiji South Pacific Games grand final in 2003 in Suva when Fiji won Gold after defeating New Caledonia, the rivalry was truly alive and obvious, only this time it was not the finals but the decider of which team to top pool 1.

Both teams enter to unfamiliar wet conditions in Apia and the match was off to a sedate start, with both teams happy to allow each other to play around half way and through the flanks. However, it was New Caledonia who made use of the slippery conditions when Pierre Wajoka slotted a free kick that finds its way into the corner of the Fijian net in the 43rd minute to make it 1 nil in favour of New Caledonia at the half-time breather.

After a hard talk at half time by Fiji Coach Juan Carlos Buzzetti, Fiji came out firing in the second half. This eventually paid off for Fiji when new find Roy Krishna fires an ensuing free kick directly at a New Caledonian defence wall, resulting in a corner. The corner was headed back across goal by Lorima Dau, for Malakai Kainihewe to fire a header inside the upright for an equaliser for Fiji in the 56th minute. The match ended at full time with a 1-all draw. This result means that Fiji has topped pool 1 due to the higher number of goals scored ahead of New Caledonia despite both teams having the same maximum points from as many matches.

In pool 2, Solomon Islands proved to be the clear winner ahead of Vanuatu after recording a 100% win in all its matches while Vanuatu lost their match to Solomon Islands 0-2 to only settle for the runner-up position.

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