Tuesday, February 27, 2024
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Tahiti hammers Fiji, qualifies for OFC final

Tahiti hammered Fiji 7-3 in the first semifinal of the OFC Futsal Nations Cup today to book a spot in the final at the Bruce Pulman Arena in Auckland.

Tahiti took the lead in the seventh minute when captain Akareva Riaria scored.

Fiji continued to battle hard and four minutes later, Gabriele Matanisiga found the leveller when he pounced on a rebound to beat Tahiti’s goalkeeper Puarea Roe.

The momentum of the game had shifted and Matanisiga came close moments later before Ramzan Khan forced a diving save from Roe.

The Tahitians took the lead again with captain Riaria grabbing his second, footing the ball past a crowded Fijian defence in the 13th minute.

Roe then pulled off a blinder to deny Fijian captain Filipe Baravilala an equaliser with five minutes remaining to half time.

Fiji was then forced to play with two players only when keeper Baleloa was red carded for a late challenge on Vincent Tinomoe.

Tahiti took advantage as skipper Riaria made the extra player count after a patient build-up and he riffled the ball into the left-hand corner of the net for his hat-trick.

Fiji was forced to play third-choice and former Lautoka goalkeeper Beniamino Mateinaqara as Emori Ragata missed the match due to an injury against Vanuatu yesterday.

Restored to their full complement, Fiji stunned Tahiti on the break with Suva star Dave Radrigai pulling a goal back just before the break.

Tahiti led 3-2 at half time.

Some stern prep talk by coach Jerry Sam saw Fiji again level the scores at 3-3 thanks to a wonderful right foot strike from their skipper Baravilala.

Fiji came close twice in a minute to taking the lead in the 28th minute as first Matanisiga blasted against the post and then Tevita Waranivalu did the same within seconds of each other.

Tahiti hit the front with a classy finish from Tetuanui Tinomoe and then the skipper scored his fourth.

Tahiti will play the winner of New Zealand vs Solomon in the grand final at 7pm on Saturday, while Fiji will feature in the third-fourth place play off at 4pm the same day.

Romeka Romena
Romeka Romena
Journalist | news@fijilive.com

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