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Suva, FIJI – July 28, 2022: 7pm (OFC): Host nation Fiji will face Papua New Guinea in the OFC Women’s Nations Cup 2022 final after beating the Solomon Islands 3-1 in front of a passionate home crowd at the HFC Bank Stadium in Suva.

Cema Nasau’s first-half double and Luisa Tamanitoakula’s second-half finish secured the semi-final triumph for the Kulas, after Ileen Pegi’s penalty had given the Solomon Islands the lead.

The Solomon Islands needed a penalty to draw 1-1 with Fiji during the group stage and 10 minutes in they were once again given the chance to score against the hosts from 12 yards.

Maria Veronika’s high boot challenge felled Jemina David and, just as she did in the previous meeting, Solomon Islands captain Ileen Pegi dispatched the spot-kick to open the scoring.

Fiji were not trailing for long, with their boisterous supporters soon having reason to cheer of their own at a raucous HFC Bank Stadium.

Trina Davis, just moments after dragging her own opportunity wide, delivered a pinpoint cross onto the head of Nasau who nodded the equaliser beyond Solomons goalkeeper Corrina Rotoava.

Fiji attempting a goal. Photo: OFC

Nasau, one of the stars of the tournament so far, then gave Fiji the lead with a superbly taken second goal.

Koleta Likuculacula demonstrated excellent link-up play with the goalscorer before Nasau’s nimble footwork deceived her marker, giving her space to fire home and give Fiji the lead.

Diyalowai and Likuculacula had chances to stretch the host nation’s lead early in the second period while the Solomon Islands also came desperately close to levelling the score, Pegi’s long-range strike hitting the crossbar.

Fiji substitute Anasimeci Volitikoro snatched at two perfect chances before the Solomons again came close to equalising, this time David’s one-on-one effort well saved by the advancing Fiji goalkeeper Seruwaia Vasuitoga.

With the game now stretched, a chaotic moment between Rotoava and her defenders nearly gifted Fiji super-sub Tamanitoakula an open goal.

But she did not have to wait long for another chance as another moment of confusion at the back allowed Tamanitoakula to score Fiji’s third and ensure victory for the Kulas.

The Solomon Islands will now face Samoa in the third/fourth playoff. Fiji, for the second Women’s Nations Cup in succession, are into the final where they will face top-ranked Papua New Guinea on Saturday.

Fiji head coach Lisa Cole said: “It is going to take a team effort (to win the final) which has been the case the whole tournament.

“Really, everybody needs to give what they can, stay with the gameplan, make sure they know their role, do their role well and make sure they keep their agreements.

“If we do those things well we are going to be a tough team to beat but we have also got to defend really well against a good Papua New Guinea squad.”

Solomon Islands head coach Batram Suri said: “We are underdogs and we have come this far so we are proud and I think the players are happy about where we are now.

“It is a stepping stone for us now especially as a country that were bottom of the ranking. So I am proud of the result but not happy with it.”

Fiji 3 (Cema NASAU 15’, 28’, Luisa TAMANITOAKULA 83’) – Solomon Islands 1 (Ileen PEGI 10’ pen); Half-time: 2-1.

Papua New Guinea advance to Women’s Nations Cup final with 3-0 win over Samoa

Papua New Guinea are into the final of the OFC Women’s Nations Cup 2022 after beating Samoa 3-0 at the HFC Bank Stadium in Suva, Fiji.

Meagen Gunemba’s two second-half goals, either side of Samoa having a penalty saved, secured the win after Charlie Yanding had given PNG a first-half lead.

While Samoa were intent on playing out from the back, Papua New Guinea were happy to press them in midfield, continuously winning the ball as a consequence.

Early chances followed for PNG, Gunemba heading over and Samoa goalkeeper Ronisa Lipi making a sharp save from Sonia Embahe.

PNG on the attack against Samoa in Suva. Photo: OFC

Paul Ifill’s side did look dangerous once they entered PNG’s defensive third. Torijan Lyne-Lewis twice had attempts from range while Jayda Stewart showed her ability to get beyond the defence, but could only hook her left-foot shot wide.

PNG remained the more threatening, Embahe missing from close range, Gunemba’s goalbound corner-kick forcing an acrobatic save from Lipi before Rayleen Bauelua whipped a long-range volley just wide of the post.

Eventually, PNG’s first-half pressure did pay off. Bauelua, as she did throughout the game, won possession in midfield before unleashing Ramona Padio, whose pass split the Samoa defence to allow Yanding a finish from close-range.

PNG head coach Nicola Demaine was in the opposite dugout when these two nations met at the 2018 edition of the Women’s Nations Cup. On that occasion, she was on the losing side, as PNG won 5-0. Early in the second period PNG looked to secure their boss a win four years on.

Gunemba, who scored a hat-trick in that 2018 meeting, repeated her trick from the quarter-final, as her corner-kick evaded two Samoa defenders and the goalie before nestling in the back of the net for 2-0.

Lipi was then called into action on two occasions, preventing Padio and then Gunemba, before Samoa were given a golden opportunity to claw their way back into the game.

PNG defender Lucy Maino fouled the pacey Sariah Taeaoalii in the box but PNG stopper Faith Kasiray saved Samoa skipper Monique Fischer’s spot-kick to maintain a two-goal advantage.

Any hope Samoa had of pulling off a comeback was then extinguished as Gunemba fired home a powerful strike from 25 yards to book PNG’s place in Saturday’s final against either host nation Fiji or the Solomon Islands.

Samoa will face the losers of that semi-final in the third/fourth playoff, and will take the positives from an impressive tournament performance which belies their current FIFA World Ranking of 109.

Samoa head coach Paul Ifill said: “We need to regroup, we have the Pacific Games coming up next year and I think we have an opportunity to really go far in that tournament as well.

“Hopefully we have put Samoa on the map a little bit more than they were before and I think they have to got to be proud of themselves.”

Papua New Guinea head coach Nicola Demaine said :“We came here to make history so going one step better than the last competition we are definitely on that path to do that.

“We will see if we can finish the job off.”

Samoa 0 – Papua New Guinea 3 (Charlie YANDING 44’, Meagen GUNEMBA 48’, 79’), Half-time: 0-1.

* PACNEWS

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