Saturday, January 8, 2011

OFC U-17 Commences in Auckland

The Solomon Islands U-17 Team [Photo: Solomon Star]

The Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) men's under 17 championship has commenced in Auckland, New Zealand, today with big wins for Vanuatu and Fiji.

In the  tournament opener, the in-form Fijians thrashed American Samoa by 9 - 0 in a match that Fiji was the favourites to win.

Despite the high scoring result, Fiji was unable to score until it was only few minutes before half time. They scored their first goal 41 minutes into the second half and their second inside first half added time.

The match however changed phase in the second half when Fiji was able to score 7 goals.

In the second match, Vanuatu defeated a very determined PNG-side by 2 - 0. The first goal also came 41 minutes into the second half when Mermer of Vanuatu scored from the penalty spot after the PNG goal-keeper, Lepani, fouled Kaltak of Vanuatu inside the 6-yard box.

The second goal came 10 minutes into the second half when striker Michel Coulon of Vanuatu smashed the ball home right from the edge of the 6-yard box.

PNG had their chances to  score but fall short of utilising them.

Solomon Islands will play their first game tomorrow when they will face 2009 third runner-ups New Caledonia in match that is expected to be hard fought by both teams.

The winner of the tournament will represent Oceania in the upcoming FIFA U-17 World Cup to be held later this year in Mexico.

Defending champs, New Zealand, are the top favourites to win. However, they have tipped Solomon Islands, Fiji and Vanuatu as their most feared opponents. 

A win for the Solomon Islands Katukatu will make them the third soccer squad in Solomon Islands to compete in a FIFA World Cup. Both the Bilikiki and Kurukuru are regulars at the FIFA-sanctioned World Beach Soccer and Futsal champions respectively.

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