Papua New Guinea (PNG) got off to a flying start in the opening day of the Sol2023 Pacific Games women’s football competition, beating American Samoa 9-0 under the floodlights of the new SIFF Academy in Honiara.
The gold medallists from the Samoa 2019 Pacific Games dominated proceedings early on, with American Samoa goalkeeper, Destiny Kapisi, forced to make several great saves in the opening minutes.
After a number of missed chances the deadlock was broken in the seventh minute thanks to PNG captain Ramona Padio, who found the back of the net after great build-up play.
Padio added another goal to her name just before half-time, giving her side a 2-0 advantage going into the break.
The five-times Pacific Games champions proved too superior for their opponents in the second half, adding another seven goals, including four from Padio.
Speaking highly of her captain, PNG Coach Frederica Sakette said: “She was prepared for this game, she sets her goals. In fact, all the girls set their goals for this Pacific Games, which is to defend their gold medal”.
On a night which she will remember for a very long time, a proud Padio said: “I’m very happy because I know that my family and my country is supporting me”.
Padio also dedicated her six goals to her teammates that are back in PNG and could not join the squad for the Games.
The day’s earlier match saw New Caledonia come from behind twice to beat Cook Islands 5-2, helping their side sit comfortably alongside PNG on top of pool A.
The women’s competition shifts to Lawson Tama on Saturday with a couple of mouth-watering encounters on the schedule. The action begins at 12pm with Tahiti taking on 2019 bronze medallists Samoa, followed by an all-Melanesian affair between hosts Solomon Islands and Vanuatu at 3pm.
By Timothy Inifiri Jnr, Pacific Games News Service