Tuesday, September 26, 2023
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Fiji edges PNG, progresses to semis

Fiji has booked its spot in the semifinals of the OFC Men’s Olympic Qualifiers after beating Papua New Guinea 2-0 at the Go Media Mt Stadium in New Zealand today.

After their 3-1 loss to host nation and defending champions New Zealand in their opening match, Fiji just needed a draw but the Rob Sherman coached side made their intentions known early by opening their account in the opening five minutes.

A swift curler from Nabil Begg found Captain Etonia Dogalau in an unmarked position to freely head the ball into the roof of the net.

The David Muta coached PNG side with the services of Lae City star and Skipper Bruce Tiampo, who played in the senior team in Malaysia and also last September’s MSG Cup in Port Vila, Vanuatu and Hekari United FC midfielders Solomon Rani and Obert Simon and fast-finishing striker Rex Naime looked to get back in the match and tested the defence and goalkeeper Aiydin Mustaib on a couple of occasions.

Fiji was awarded a free kick in the 13th minute when Navua midfielder Thomas Dunn was fouled just milometers outside the penalty box but the resulting free-kick by Mohammed Raheem was blasted over the cross-bar.

PNG’s Rani almost got the equaliser in the 39th minute as he saw goalkeeper Mustahib off his line and chipped the ball over, but it went a couple of inches over the uprights.

Fiji went to the break with a 1-0 lead.

Early in the second stanza, PNG made a quick change with Troy Dobbin taking the field in place of Kaio.

Fiji kept fighting hard Lautoka midfielder Aporosa Yada netted the second goal and match sealer in the 64th minute to book their spot in the last four.

The Junior Bula Boys will enter the semis as Group A runners-up and are likely to meet the Solomon Islands in the semifinals on Wednesday.

The teams:

PNG: Adrian Redenut (GK), Nigel Kiaka, Joshua Urro, Solomon Rani, Oberth Simon, Rex Naime, Hosain Kaio (Troy Dobbin), Alfred Tinge, Nathaniel Eddie, Bruce Tiampo (C), Kule Leslie.

Fiji: Adydin Mustahib (GK), Brendan McMullen (Epeli Valevou), Inoke Turagalailai, Thomas Dunn (Sailasa Ratu), Aporosa Yada (Gulam Rasool), Mohammed Muzakkir-Nabeel, Nabil Begg, Mohammed Yunus Atiq, Etonia Dogalau (C), Mohammed Raheem, Sterling Vasconcellos.

Romeka Romena
Romeka Romena
Journalist | news@fijilive.com
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