Tahiti are into the quarter-finals of the OFC U-17 Championship 2023 after a Tiahiti Colombani-inspired 6-0 win over the Cook Islands at HFC Bank Stadium in Suva.
playmaker scored twice and assisted another as Tahiti made it two wins from two
in Fiji and secured top spot in Group C despite some brave opposition.
complete disregard for their status as underdogs, the Cook Islands looked
determined to push Tahiti all the way and nearly took a shock lead seven
minutes in. Dallas Rongokea’s speculative 35-yard effort had Tahiti stopper
Argan Clodic-Boucher backtracking before clipping the crossbar on its way to
Tahiti remained the dominant side, allowing the Cook Islands possession in
their own half before pouncing and attacking with pace when back in
tactic paid off midway through the opening period when Colombani’s long-range
strike beat Cook Islands stopper Robert Savage, skimming the underside of the
bar before hitting the back of the net for 1-0.
Tamarii struck the post with a crisp half-volley shortly after before the Cook
Islands threatened again. On this occasion, it was Jeremiah Williams who tried
his luck from distance but the ball rolled comfortably into Clodic-Boucher’s
later and Tahiti took control. Colombani again was the instigator, rifling a
left-foot strike in off the base of the post from just outside the penalty area
on the stroke of half-time.
second period nearly began with an immediate response from the Cook Islands.
Shane Tuteru tried his luck direct from kick-off, with Clodic-Boucher nearly
gifting him an audacious long-distance goal.
Tahiti soon took full control as shortly after Savage denied him a hat-trick
goal Colombani turned provider for Titouan Guillemant, whose shot went through
the Cook Islands stopper for a three-goal advantage.
treble continued to elude him as his breathtaking mazy run was not rewarded
with the goal it deserved, Savage denying him at the near post but Tahiti soon
put the game to bed when Tuarii Rota punished a Savage spillage from
the Cook Islands tired, Tahiti took full advantage. Substitute Eden Castodeau
dispatched a penalty before fellow replacement Teriitaumatatini Martin smashed
home the sixth.
Tahiti’s win secures their passage to the quarter-finals where they will take on the Group A runners-up on January 22. The Cook Islands now face Vanuatu on January 17 with a place in the final eight still very much in reach for both nations.