Solomons And Tahiti Kick Off With Wins

Hosts the Solomon Islands and Tahiti have secured opening round wins in Group 1 action yesterday of the Stage 1 OFC Nations Cup/World Cup preliminaries being played at Honiara.

OFC Release: Group 1 hosts Solomon Islands easily accounted for Tonga 6-0 in the opening match of the Stage 1 OFC Nations Cup/World Cup preliminaries at Lawson Tama Stadium in Honiara yesterday.   In front of over 12,000 spectators, the Tongan team held their more fancied opponents to 2-0 at the break, but the floodgates opened up in the second stanza as the oppressive heat and humidity started to have its effect on the visitors.   Australian-based star Henry Fa'Arodo (pictured above) thrived on the home advantage scoring a hat-trick of goals, two in the first half to clearly stamp his mark on the Group 1 preliminaries. With Commins Menapi well-marked and veteran Batram Suri ruled out of the match, Fa'Arodo seized the scoring responsibility.   Young strike partner Alick Maemae also chipped in with two goals in the second half with replacement Jack Samani completing the scoring after he followed up a rebounded shot off the crossbar.   In the other round 1 match in Stage 1 Tahiti overcame a gutsy Cook Islands outfit, which competed from opening to final whistle. The 2-0 winning margin flattered the higher ranked Tahitians who were missing several stars including Felix Tagawa.   Samuel Garcia made a welcome return to the Tahitian team with a sensationally taken free kick in only the second minute which beat Cooks goalkeeper Tony Jamieson who otherwise had a superb game.   Tahiti did not score again until the dying minutes when replacement Rino Moretta connected with a brilliant cross from Vincent Simon.   Round 2 matches for Group 1 continues this Wednesday, 12 May (local time) with the hosts Solomon Islands playing the Cook Islands at 2pm while Tahiti face off with New Caledonia in the following match at 4pm.   Group 2 kicks off today at the Toleafoa JS Blatter Complex in Apia, Samoa with Papua New Guinea playing Vanuatu in the opening game at 2pm (local time) while hosts Samoa plays neighbours American Samoa in the following match at 4pm.