PNG U16s lose to SI in first game of OFC titles


PAPUA New Guinea lost their opening Oceania Football Confederation Under-16 championship Group A match against Solomon Islands 5-0 at Lawson Tama Satdium, Honiara, yesterday.
Defending champions New Zealand outplayed a determined Vanuatu 8-0 in another group match.
Hosts Solomon Islands proved too strong for PNG in front of vocal fans.
It was a nervy opening 10 minutes for both the host side and PNG as they struggled to get the ball under control in wet conditions.
PNG had some long-range attempts in the early exchanges, while Solomons captain Charles Mani missed two golden opportunities with only the goalkeeper to beat.
The breakthrough arrived pretty early on as Raphael Le’ai marked his birthday with a perfect gift — the opening goal of the tournament for Solomon Islands and his first as an international footballer.
Mani’s initial shot rebounded perfectly for Le’ai to tap in from close range 12 minutes into the match.
The young Kapuls regrouped after conceding and went in search of a goal of their own, but the home side had other ideas.
Steward Saru was brought down in the box after a good run and Le’ai stepped up to convert from the spot.
The Solomon Islands dual international completed his birthday hat-trick to hand the hosts a 3-0 lead at the break.
PNG had some good opportunities in the second half to score but good defending from Leon Kofana and Javin Wae kept them at bay.
Despite the downpour in the later stages of the second half Chris Satu and Le’ai managed to score as the hosts walked away with a 5-0 win.
Solomon Islands coach Stanley Waita said the pressure of playing at home get hold of his players in the opening minutes of the encounter.
PNG coach Anthony Pakakota gave credit to the hosts but insisted that lack of concentration from his players also contributed to the result.
“Solomon was too good and too clinical in the first half,” Pakakota said.
“We stood and watched them, let them play and they were able to get those quick goals in.
“In this kind of tournament, you let goals in, you start slow, it will be difficult to get back into the match.” – OFC

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