Fiji and Papua New Guinea (PNG) secured their spots in the Sol2023 Pacific Games women’s football gold medal match following their semi-final wins at Lawson Tama Stadium on Monday.
PNG showcased their resilience defeating a formidable Samoa side 5-1 in the first semi-final match of the women’s football competition.
Despite playing with only ten players following Serah Waida’s red card in the 44th minute, the reigning champions dominated the first half, leading 3-0 at the break thanks to another two goals from captain Ramona Padio and one from Marie Kaipu.
Samoa attempted a comeback in the second half, narrowing the gap with a goal, and caused some problems for PNG, but their efforts fell short as PNG secured the win with another two goals – Kaipu’s second and Padio’s third.
PNG assistant coach Eric Komeng commended his players for their fighting spirit, especially considering the disadvantage of being a player short.
“We came prepared, looking forward to playing more, but after the red card, everything changed suddenly,” he told the Pacific Games News Service.
“The girls stuck to our game plan in the second half, and I think we were really determined to win.”
The second semi-final match saw Fiji emerge triumphant with a 3-0 win against New Caledonia.
The Fijian team showed early signs of a threat, securing a lead in the first half with a well-executed goal.
Returning with more determination in the second half, Fiji wasted no time adding two more goals before the full-time whistle.
“We needed a win and the girls came out and put in their best to put us through to the finals,” Fiji coach Angelina Chua said. “PNG are the defending champions. So we’ll go back, recover and then come up with a game plan to play against PNG,” a confident Chua said.
The Sol2023 women’s football gold medal match, which will take place on Friday 1 December at 7pm at the National Stadium promises a tantalising rematch of last year’s OFC Women’s Nations Cup final, in which PNG emerged victorious.
Samoa and New Caledonia will play for bronze at 12pm on Friday at Lawson Tama.
By Carlos Aruafu, Pacific Games News Service