PNG-NZ showdown

Normal, Sports

The National, Friday February 21st, 2014

 PAPUA New Guinea and New Zealand have set up a final day showdown after they both recorded wins at the OFC U-20 Women’s Championship at Mangere Centre Park in Auckland, New Zealand, yesterday.

PNG recorded their second 4-0 victory at the competition in the day’s opening match against Vanuatu, while New Zealand conceded their first goal on the way to a hard-fought 3-1 win over Tonga.

It took Papua New Guinea just five minutes to breach the Vanuatu goal when in-form striker Meagan Gunemba slotted into the bottom right corner. 

Seven minutes later she had her second after an the advancing Vanuatu goalkeeper Melody Tate left the goalmouth open for Gunemba to tap home. 

Her hattrick came four minutes later after capitalising on some defensive lapses.

The tournament’s first yellow card was handed out to PNG’s Talitha Irakau after she fouled Monica Melteviel.

The standout player on day one Georgina Kaikas entered play 33 minutes into the game and made an immediate impact as PNG continued to press the Vanuatu defence. 

She was rewarded for her hard work six minutes after coming on as she blasted a shot under the diving Tate.

Vanuatu made two changes at half-time bringing Jane Alatoa and Nadine Kileteir on for Emilia Taravaki and Eva Boe respectively, and it made a difference as their back-line slowed the opposition attack. 

Growing in confidence Vanuatu pressed higher and started breaking into their opponent’s 18-yard box, but keeper Lace Kunei was rarely under threat. 

As Vanuatu started to tire late in the second-half PNG upped their intensity with shots at goal but were unable to penetrate as Tate made a number of saves.

The day’s second match proved a thriller from start to finish as New Zealand’s offence launched straight into the game. 

After several missed opportunities it was Daisy Cleverly who opened the scoring seven minutes in. It was a stunning goal for the young mid-fielder, also a member of the national Under-17 side, who started the play in the middle before playing a tidy one-two through the centre, beating a defender and slotting home.

The OFC U20 Women’s Championship continues tomorrow at Mangere Centre Park in Auckland with Vanuatu taking on Tonga in what is effectively the third-place playoff while at 1pm the tournament decider sees perennial bridesmaids PNG with their best chance of knocking of regional leaders in a highly anticipated match.

The winner of will qualify for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup to be held in Canada in August.