New Caledonia men’s football team made an impressive start to their Sol2023 Pacific Games campaign with a 7-0 humiliation of Tonga in their pool A opener at SIFF Academy on Saturday.
The Samoa 2019 silver medalists took control early in the first half, finding the back of the net on five occasions before half-time, proving why they are one of the most decorated teams in the history of the Pacific Games men’s football.
Tonga regrouped and put up a good fight in the second half, holding back constant waves of attack by the New Caledonians. However, things went from bad to worse for the men in red as defender Kulisitofa Kite was awarded his second yellow card mid-way through the half.
New Caledonia then capitalised on their extra man advantage by adding another two goals, with striker Lues Waya completing a perfect hat-trick.
A joyous New Caledonia coach Johann Sidaner said: “We are happy for the win because it’s our first match. It was not easy at the beginning, but the boys managed to pick up the pace and played much better as the match went on.
“We had a disappointing campaign in last month’s MSG cup, but today’s sweet victory puts all that in the past and is a great to start this competition with a positive result.”
The day’s second match saw Fiji waltz past Northern Mariana Islands 10-0, with star striker Roy Krishina among the list of names on the scoresheet with a hat-trick.
“As a striker, you know that you have to score goals and I’m just happy I was at the right place at the right time to help my team win, but we can’t get carried away with this result because we have got another big game coming up next week,” Krishna told the Pacific Games News Service.
With tonight’s win, Fiji now sits on-top of pool C, which also has five-time Pacific Games gold medallists Tahiti in it.
The Sol2023 men’s football competition will resume on Monday at Lawson Tama, with PNG facing Vanuatu at 12pm and American Samoa taking on Samoa at 3pm.
Tickets are $30 SBD and can be purchased at the Sol2023 ticket booth at Lawson Tama.
By Timothy Inifiri Jnr & Amanda Su’ainiu, Pacific Games News Service