The side went down to Nalkutan FC 4-0 in the Group A clash in Port Vila, Vanuatu, and is now out of the championship despite a match remaining against Ba tomorrow.
The match against Nalkutan saw a reshuffled Tupapa Maraerenga taking on the home side with the hope that their revised plan of attack would help stem the flow of goals which occurred during their first encounter at the OFC Champions League.
The Tupapa players were overwhelmingly more organised on the pitch this time around, with Tyrell Barringer-Tahiri acting as coordinator from his spot in the middle of the defence.
The side was also buoyed by an improved performance from goalkeeper Keegan Inia, who shook off some of the rust in match one and was ready for business second time out.
While the focus was defence and compact pressing when out of possession, Tupapa had a couple of good chances to grab a goal in the match, with Sean Latimer and Maro Bonsu-Maro combining well.
Tupapa Maraerenga coach Alex Napa said going into this match that they knew they were up against it, but hoped the overall performance from his side would lift compared with game one.
“We came here to get a feel for this kind of football and from our first match it’s come up a few notches,” Napa said.
“We didn’t look like we were going to take the game, but if we can keep progressing like this it’s a huge plus for us. And you can’t take anything away from Nalkutan. The goals they scored were quality goals and that’s the sign of a good team.”
Although his side scored just once in the first half thanks to an Azariah Soromon effort, Nalkutan coach Moise Poida never lost confidence that his side would prevail.
The second half boasted a more persistent and confident performance from his team and the pressure they heaped on a tiring Tupapa paid off when James Naka got on the end of a ball and fired past the goalkeeper.
Unfortunately for the striker, he retaliated following a late tackle on him from Barringer-Tahiri as he took his shot, and for that he was shown a red card. Barringer-Tahiri was cautioned for the challenge.
It left Nalkutan two goals up but a man down, which Tupapa did their best to take advantage of.
However, the home side never looked out of sorts and soon added two more courtesy of the impressive Raoul Coulon and substitute Roddy Lenga.
Poida said the approach from their opponents was expected, but it took time for his team to adjust and impose their style.
“We expected that the opponent would come with a totally different strategy and the full block was just outside the penalty area and we couldn’t find a way in,” he explained.
“But in the second half we changed everything – we started to attack from the sides and get in behind and that’s how we were able to score four goals, which was good enough.”
Nalkutan will be joined in the quarterfinals by Lae City Dweller, who defeated Ba 1-0.
- OFC Media.