The Samoa and Solomon Islands women’s football teams registered their first wins of the Sol2023 Pacific Games at Lawson Tama Stadium on Saturday.
Samoa clinched their maiden victory with a thrilling 3-2 win against a formidable Tahiti side in the day’s opening match.
Samoa asserted dominance from the outset, securing a comfortable 2-0 lead. However, the Tahitians swiftly retaliated, leveling the score with two well-executed goals.
Undeterred, Samoa exhibited unwavering confidence and determination, reclaiming the lead with a decisive third goal.
Despite a relentless effort from Tahiti, Samoa held their ground, securing three crucial points in a match that showcased both teams’ prowess.
Samoa coach Juan Jose Chang, who hails from Guatemala, admitted it was a tough match, but his team remained focused until they found the winning goal through a penalty in the second half.
“It was definitely a close win, we started winning 2-0, but then 2-2, it was really tough. We knew that they were a really strong team, but we played our game.
“The game got stretched a little bit in the second half, it was anyone’s game. We got the penalty and then we capitalised on that one for the winning goal.
“I’m really proud of the girls and the way they played today with the heat, with the conditions, they adapted and they overcame,” he said.
In the second women’s clash of the day, host country Solomon Islands narrowly defeated Vanuatu 1-0.
The contest proved to be an evenly matched battle, with both teams displaying skill and resilience.
Solomon Islands had the lion’s share of scoring opportunities in the first half, but Vanuatu’s steadfast goalkeeper thwarted every attempt.
After a goalless first half, both teams intensified their efforts in the second half in pursuit of a breakthrough.
The turning point came in favour of the host nation as Jeminah David scored the decisive goal, securing a hard-fought victory for Solomon Islands.
These wins mark significant milestones for both Samoa and Solomon Islands in the Sol2023 women’s football competition, setting the stage for an exciting and competitive tournament ahead.
Solomon Islands coach and former men’s national team player Batram Suri said: “I’m happy with the win and performance. We should have scored more goals in the first half. It was a tough match and Vanuatu gave us a good run, but we ended up winning.
“We need to work on more areas we see fit to address ahead of our second match.”
Vanuatu Coach Jean Robert praised his team for a great performance despite the defeat.
“My girls did very well,” he said.
“To end the match with such a goal margin against the hosts, who have a team that comprises of players selected from a properly organised women’s football league, is something we really appreciate.
“It was obvious they were affected by the heat, but they put up a good fight,” he added.
The women’s football competition continues on Monday at SIFF Academy, with Cook Islands facing favourites Papua New Guinea at 4pm, followed by American Samoa taking on New Caledonia at 7pm.
Tickets are $30 SBD and available from the ticket booth at National Stadium or from Our Telekom at Point Cruz.
By Carlos Aruafu, Pacific Games News Service