PNG crashes out of tourney

Main Stories, Sports

The National, Wednesday, April 27, 2011

PNG were sent packing following a 5-2 hammering by Group A leaders Vanuatu on day three of the Oceania Football Confederation U20 tournament   in Auckland on Monday.
The win put Vanuatu through to the semi-finals  as Group A winners while PNG missed out on goal difference to Fiji, who also defeated American Samoa 5-1.
Vanuatu returned a perfect record beating American Samoa (7-0), Fiji (2-0) and PNG.
PNG started off with a draw with Fiji (0-0), thrashed American Samoa (5-1) and lost to Vanuatu.
PNG coach Max Foster is disappointed not to have achieved his pre-tournament goal of a semi-final spot.
“We made too many errors in the first half and Vanuatu made use of those chances,” he said.
Foster said his side’s time in Auckland had not been wasted though and felt his young charges would return  home as better players.
“Competing in a tournament like this is a good experience for our boys and will serve them well for the future,” he said.
PNG started the game well and had the better of the opening minutes.
But Vanuatu have been one of the most impressive sides of the tournament so far and soon took control of the match.
PNG survived a dangerous moment in the 12th minute when Vanuatu striker Jean Kaltak lobbed a header over goalkeeper Jacob Senat and defender Matthew Bokari pulled off an acrobatic clearance underneath his crossbar.
But, in a big blow to PNG’s hopes of keeping the scoreline tight, Senat was injured in that incident and was forced to leave the field.
Replacement Soma Kairi did not have long to get into the game before he was picking the ball out of the net.
Kaltak unleashed a powerful shot to put Vanuatu ahead 1-0 in the 17th minute.
It was 2-0 by the 25th minute when Octav Meltecoin forced home the ball at close range.
Pascal Chabot put the game beyond reach with a goal in the 25th minute for a 3-0 lead. At halftime, PNG were still left with a tough task to score at least three goals and earn the positive result they needed to progress.
Instead, it was Vanuatu who added further to their tally, scoring in the 56th and 67th minutes through Didier Kalip and Chabot.
PNG did mount a comeback of sorts in the final 20 minutes, giving themselves a glimmer of hope in the 71st minute when Nigel Dabinyaba fired home after good play from Bruce Kusanan.
The unlikely fight-back nearly paid off when substitute Alwin Komolong rose well to head home a Max Sengum free kick but it was a classic case of too little, too late as PNG were eliminated by Group A rivals Fiji on goal difference.
Meanwhile, the final four matches of the championship will be played at Auckland’s North Harbour Stadium in Albany today and on Friday with revised kick-off times of noon and 2.45pm.
The first match to be played at the new venue will be the first semi-final today, which will feature Group A winners Vanuatu taking on Group B runners-up Solomon Islands.
The second semi-final will follow shortly afterwards on the same day and will see Group B winners New Zealand meet Group A runners-up Fiji.
The winners of the championship will go on to represent Oceania at the FIFA U20 World Cup in Colombia in July and August.