Puaikura win Cup in style

Friday December 23, 2016 Written by Published in Soccer
Puaikura’s goalkeeper saves at the feet of a flying Avatiu player. 16122212 Puaikura’s goalkeeper saves at the feet of a flying Avatiu player. 16122212

AVATIU’S hunt for a title win in the domestic competition continues as Puaikura ended their 2016 campaign in a spectacular fashion at CIFA Complex in Matavera on Wednesday.

 

The minnows, who made it through to a major tournament final after a lapse of 15 years, were eyeing a fairytale end to their majestic run in the CIFA Knockout Cup.

But the dream finish belonged to Puaikura, who thumped Avatiu 6-2 to record a clean sweep in the 2016 season.

The undefeated Puaikura also claimed the pre-season tournament title and the Round Cup Championship trophy.

The Puaikura versus Avatiu final was initially scheduled for Saturday, but was abandoned following a torrential rain last weekend, forcing the match into a rematch on Wednesday.

It started at a slow pace with both teams taking a cautious approach to avoid mistakes that could have landed them in the back seat early into the match.

Avatiu opted for counter play and made some good breaks, but were hardly threatening to the Puaikura defence.

Puaikura missed some early opportunities after some bold saves from Avatiu stopper Luke Vidovi.

But the Avatiu defence was unable to hold the rampaging Puaikura attackers for long as national Under-20 striker Dwayne Tiputoa took advantage of their lethargic defending to score the opening goal in the 24th minute.

Tiputoa’s initial attempt was saved by Vidovi, who was left helpless, as the lethal striker calmly slotted the rebound to the delight of the Puaikura fans.

Avatiu tried to come back in the match with some daring runs from their young winger Rechimaer Rairoa who was unable to hit the target.

With the likes of Atu Putere and skipper Bim Tou in the midfield supported by sharpshooter Nathan Tisam, the side looked threatening at times but Puaikura’s defence, led by Jarvis Aperau and skipper Roimata Moekapiti, kept them at bay with some superb defending.

In the 43rd minute, Puaikura extended their lead in a counter attack from deadly left-footer Paavo Mustonen, who slammed the ball past the diving Vidovi to head into the break with a 2-0 lead.

It rained goals in the opening quarter of the second spell after Puaikura attackers found their rhythm to put the match beyond Avatiu’s reach.

The sublime combination of striker Pekay Edwards, youngster Conroy Tiputoa, Kimiora Ngametua, coach/player Anthony Samuel in the midfield, Dwayne and Mustonen proved too much for the brittle Avatiu backline.

Edwards cunningly put Puaikura up by 3-0 in the 51st minute before Conroy scored a brace in 58th and 59th minute to extend their lead to 5-0.

A quick change from Avatiu which saw Tahiri Elikana come in for Selafi Taoro upfront, saw the side build some momentum in their attack.

A neat pass from Elikana found Tisam unmarked who managed to pull one back with a stupendous strike.

Minutes later, Avatiu’s relentless effort was rewarded with a spot kick and youngster Rairoa made no mistake, sending the Puaikura goalkeeper in the wrong direction, to reduce the deficit to 2-5.

An own goal from Avatiu in the final quarter of the match sealed the 6-2 win for Puaikura which is one of the few premier men’s teams to play 19 games without conceding defeat in recent years.

On top of this, they have qualified for the O-League Preliminary tournament to be held in Tonga next month after winning the Round Cup Championship.

Despite the loss, Avatiu deserves praise for their efforts especially in the Knockout Cup competition.

They knocked out fourth-placed Nikao Sokattak in the first elimination round before beating second placed Tupapa Maraerenga in the semifinal play-offs to reach the knockout final for the first time in 15 years.

                - Rashneel Kumar/

                CIFA Media 

 

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