PNG defeat Tonga 3-0 to top their pool

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PAPUA New Guinea consolidated their semi-final spot with a 3-0 victory over Tonga in the OFC Women’s Nation Cup at North Shore Harbour Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand, yesterday.
The victory places the Francis Moyap-coached team to the top in Group B followed by the Solomon Islands while in Group A, New Zealand and the Cook Islands confirmed their placing with their respective wins yesterday.
After the sixth day of the tournament, the four teams will fight it out for a place at the FIFA Women’s World Cup next year.
PNG will meet the Cook Islands in the main fixture tomorrow while New Zealand Football Ferns take on the Solomon Islands.
Moiyap made sure they finished on top with their third win on the trot, a fairly straight-forward 3-0 dismissal of Tonga.
Zeena Limbai struck in the 28th minute to get the ball rolling and added another on the hour mark before an own goal in the 74th minute rounded off the scoring.
Tonga put in plenty of effort in their bid to keep their campaign alive but struggled to threaten Linda Bunaga in the Papua New Guinea goal.
Two-goal heroine Limbai now has four strikes to her name and has been one of Papua New Guinea’s most eye-catching performers.
She was pleased with how the tournament had gone for her and was bullish about her side’s title prospects.
“I am confident that I will score in the semi-final and we will win,” she said.
“I also think we can go on and beat New Zealand –  I am 100% confident.”
Yesterday’s other match was an even encounter as Fiji’s strength was countered by the speed of the Solomon Islanders.
Few chances fell to either side with Solomons striker Ileem Pegi going closest in the dying stages of the first half but her shot was well blocked by goalkeeper Lice Waqailiti.
The second spell was a more exciting spectacle as both teams pushed for a winner but failed to find any chances at goal ending up in a scoreless draw.
Fiji coach Ramesh Sharma was philosophical about his side’s performances during the week.
“We have had a lot of missed opportunities and the results have been disappointing. But we have given it our best shot and we want to retain these girls and build towards the Pacific Games next year.”
The Solomon Islands meanwhile have shown how far they have come since the last edition of the competition in 2007 when they managed just one goal and conceded 14 to pick up the wooden spoon.
Assistant coach Diane Justus, who was part of that squad three years ago, said her team had high aspirations this time around.
“We did not play that well today but we are happy because we are through to the next stage,” she says.
“Our goal coming into the tournament was to go home with a medal and we are on track. New Zealand will be a very tough side but it will be a great experience for our girls, especially the ones who are playing for their national team for the first time.”