Cook Islands concede two goals to set up a maiden victory for Vanuatu in the tournament. 23011618
The OFC U17 Championship continued on Monday in Fiji, with Cook Islands conceding to Vanuatu 2-1 in Group C and New Caledonia beating American Samoa 7-0 in Group B.
We’ve seen some fast
starts in the OFC U17 Championship 2023, but none as quick as Augustine Chilia
from Vanuatu in their 2-1 win over the Cook Islands.
Thirty-six seconds from kick off is all it took for his shot
to find the back of the net and put his side in the lead, which set up a maiden
victory for Vanuatu in the tournament.
Vanuatu coach Emerson Alcantara made no changes to his side
that battled hard in a 2-1 loss to Tahiti in their opening Group C match. His
Cook Islands counterpart, Tahiri Elikana, only made one to his side that lost
6-0 to Tahiti in their first match, bringing in goalkeeper Teina Ngametua into
the starting lineup.
After the frantic start and wild celebrations by the Vanuatu
team, you would have been forgiven for expecting a flurry of goals to follow.
However, Alcantara’s side settled back into a more defensive pattern, seemingly
content for the Cook Islands to have their fair share of possession.
In fact, it was the Cooks that had the next real chance,
even though it took almost half an hour. A long free kick was struck well by
Shane Tuteru, but was well stopped by Vanuatu goalkeeper Joseph Nakou.
The game burst into life not long after as a set piece was
the provider of the next chance at the other end. A free kick on the edge of the
box after a heavy challenge by Tuteru on Yan Chilia was taken by captain Paul
Takaro, who struck it well. Ngametua was forced to make a great save, then did
well to keep out the follow up shot. Moments later Romain Luake’s shot
thundered off the cross bar.
But while Vanuatu dominated the back end of the half, it was
the Cook Islands who struck just before the break. Nakou fumbled a cross into
the box, with the ball rolling out of the area and the keeper caught in no
man’s land. Up stepped Jeremiah Williams who hit an opportunist shot with his
left foot to send the ball into the empty net, cuing scenes of joy from the
Cook Islands team as they headed to the changing rooms for halftime.
Unbelievably, Vanuatu then scored within two minutes of the
restart. Jimmy Moso was the beneficiary of a scrappy situation in the area,
latching onto a loose ball and sending a shot in that went across the face of
Ngametua and deflected off the back post and in, for what turned out to be the
In almost an action replay of the first half, the game then
settled down into a cagey midfield battle. Vanuatu definitely had the better of
any chances as the half wore on, at one point peppering the Cook Islands goal,
but couldn’t find a way to completely bury the result.
Delickson Judah, Vanuatu’s goal scorer from their first
game, was brought off the bench with 15 minutes to go to try and repeat his
late heroics. However it was the Cook Islands that had the best late chance
with a free kick at the top of the box, but Juleo Tauu’s shot didn’t make it
past the wall.
Vanuatu did well to avoid letting the Cooks repeat their
late goal from the first half, eventually closing the game out. The result
means Vanuatu move through to the quarter finals and will finish in second
place behind Tahiti in Group C.