Fiji will play in the third place playoff at the 2023 OFC Beach Soccer Nations Cup in Tahiti on Sunday after losing 5-3 to the hosts in an exciting encounter today.
The Jerry Sam coached side showed a lot of promise against the defending champions and almost matched in all aspects of play in the first two thirds of the match.
Needing a win to reach the final, Fiji threw everything in the fire but fell behind early when Tahiti made a quick start through Rainui Tze-Yu in the second minute of the match.
Fiji tried to make a comeback in the match through Rusiate Matarerega but he could not break through the Tahitian defence.
The Tiki Toa dominated possession while experienced goalkeeper Simione Tamanisau was forced to make a couple of super saves.
Match officials flashed a yellow card to Tahiti’s Heiarii Tavanae for lashing out in retaliation after a rough challenge.
But Tahiti immediately doubled its lead when Teaonui Tehau found the back of the net in the 16th minute.
The goal didn’t dampen the Fijian spirits as two minutes later, Merrill Nand pressured Reave Teamotuaitau and scored their first goal before Tamanisau was again forced into making a brilliant save to deny Tearii Labaste from scoring.
But with less than two minutes remaining in the second period, Tahiti were awarded a penalty which Tze-Yu blasted right into the net giving Tamanisau no chance whatsoever at all.
Into the third period and Fiji was desperate with their title hopes on the line and they made the perfect start when Matarerega headed home to close the gap to one again.
Four minutes later, he scored his second goal to level the scores at 3-3 Tahiti restored its lead when Tamatoa Tetauira’s deflected shot beat a despairing Tamanisau.
Fiji with time running out threw players but couldn’t find a way into the match as Tehau scored his second with a brilliant finish with three minutes to go which effectively ended the Fijian chances.
Fiji plays Tonga at 11am while the final will kick off at 1pm.