PAPUA New Guinea have followed through on their pre-tournament billing of second favourites by qualifying for the semi-final stages of the OFC Women’s Nations Cup 2010.
The South Pacific Games champions beat Solomon Islands 2-1 on Saturday while Tonga edged Fiji by the same scoreline in the afternoon’s other Group B match.
PNG scored the opening goal of the match in the 29th minute after curling a spectacular free kick from the goal-line over the Solomon Islands goalkeeper Betty Sade to lead 1-0 at the break.
PNG continued their raids into the Solomon Islands territory with captain Deslyn Siniu, Daisy Winas, Lydia Barnabas, till subbed and Zeena Limbai dominating play in the second half.
It was in the 48th minute when PNG scored their second goal through Siniu after heading a cross past Solomon Islands goalkeeper Sade for their second goal to extend their lead to 2-0.
Solomon Islands finally found the net when Mesalyn Saepio provided a great finish into the top corner in the 84th after Prudence Fula put her through on the left of the box with a neat pass.
The Solomons tried tried to find the equaliser but time ran out them.
PNG coach Moyap Francis and his Papua New Guinea players are the second side to book their semi-final berth, after defending champions New Zealand, who made sure the last four spot with an emphatic win 10-0 win over Cook Islands yesterday.
In contrast, Fiji’s hopes of progressing are now slim after their second straight loss.
They must beat Solomon Islands today and hope the other result goes their way to keep their campaign alive.
Tonga are still in with a good chance of making it through after yesterday’s win but are likely to need another victory against the buoyant Papua New Guineans today to make sure of progressing.
“We are not underestimating Tonga.
“They are a good side so we have to prepare ourselves well for that game,” Siniu, who headed in her side’s second goal on Saturday afternoon, said.
“We need to polish up on our defence because in the last 10 minutes we were a bit disorganised.”
United States-raised Fololeni Siale was one of Tonga’s goalscoring heroes in their stirring come-from-behind win over Fiji and was delighted to have helped the team to their first triumph of the tournament.