Solomons March On With Another Big Win
Host nation Solomon Islands made it two from two with a big win over the Cook Islands, while Tahiti and New Caledonia could not be separated in the second round of the OFC Nations Cup/FIFA World Cup Stage 1-Group 1 preliminaries in Honiara.
Another stout defensive effort by the Cook Islands was not enough to halt the rampant Solomon Islands team from recording its second big win of the OFC Nations Cup/FIFA World Cup Stage 1-Group 1 preliminaries in Honiara.
The host team eventually took out the match 5-0 but their stars were kept quiet by the green and whites as other role players assumed the scoring duties. Batrum Suri, who was absent from 6-0 over Tonga, started against the Cooks, but found himself subbed off after only half an hour. While recognised strikers Commins Menapi and Round 1 hat trick hero Henry Fa'Arodo failed to score, it was left to youngster Alick Maemae to lead the way. Goals from Stanley Waita and Gideon Omokirio during a five minute spell in the middle of the first half was the only thing to cheer about for the over 15,518 strong crowd. But after the break, further goals to replacement Jack Samani, Maemae and Leslie Leo put the result beyond doubt. In the crunch match that followed, Tahiti avoided a consecutive defeat (after their 0-4 loss during last year's South Pacific Games) to french speaking rivals New Caledonia after they fought out nil all draw. Both sides failed to make the breakthrough in a physical match marked by tight defence. The draw now sets up the much anticipated meeting between the hosts and New Caledonia in Round action this Saturday, 15 May which is bound to draw the biggest crowd yet to Lawson Tama Stadium. Over in Group 2 in Samoa, round 2 commences this afternoon with American Samoa taking on Vanuatu while Fiji plays their first match against Papua New Guinea, who impressed in their first round draw against Vanuatu. Yesterday, the official opening for the Group 2 tournament and commemoration for the FIFA Centennial Celebrations in Oceania were held in front of the government buildings in Apia.