THE DAY REPLAYED – “Our wildest dream as a team is to score a goal,” said Eddy Etaeta ahead of the start of FIFA Confederations Cup. That came true in the 54th minute of their match with Nigeria in Belo Horizonte. Etaeta, nicknamed ‘Dad’ by his players, many of whom he has coached from U-15 level onwards was in tears during his country’s national anthem, while his counterpart Stephen Keshi looked furious following Tahiti’s memorable consolation.
Although the Super Eagles now top the Group B standings, they were far from their best in Belo Horizonte. Their late arrival in Brazil in the early hours of Sunday morning may well have been a factor, but Sunday Mba, Ahmed Musa and Brown Ideye were all guilty of missing good chances. However, every time they threatened to score they faced boos from the Estadio Mineirao crowd who gave tremendous vocal backing to the underdogs throughout the 90 minutes.
At the end of the game, the two coaches embraced. The final scoreline was probably respectable for Nigeria and for Tahiti, although it may well be the Oceanian champions who will be the happier of the two sides. Yet Keshi and Co’s first win on Latin American soil moved them to 18 matches without defeat, their longest-ever unbeaten run.
What it means…
Tahiti’s entire population of almost 180,000 would fit into the original 1950s Maracana stadium and now they travel to Rio de Janeiro to face world and European champions Spain. It’s a match which pits No1 in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking against 138th, but once again the Oceania champions can expect excellent backing from the neutrals.
The Super Eagles fly to Salvador for the first game at the Arena Fonte Nova against Uruguay with both teams looking to improve upon their opening displays. There were similarities in their performances, namely an improved second half showing, but the fans of the African and South American champions are expecting more.
Goal of the day
Jonathan Tehau (TAH)
On the day when Nnamdi Oduamadi netted a hat-trick, the goal of the day must surely go to Jonathan Tehau who scored Tahiti’s historic goal in the 54th minute. Marama Vahirua swung in a corner from the left hand side, Tehau pulled away from his marker Efe Ambrose, climbed highest at the far post and planted a header beyond Vincent Enyeama into the net. He sprinted away, and joined by brother Alvin, they celebrated with infectious joy.
The man who supplied Tehau, the only professional in the Tahitian squad, Vahirua led the team in a ‘paddling celebration’ .It is a goal celebration loaded with special meaning for the 33-year-old. “I’ve made the paddle a symbol of my country,” the player told FIFA.com before the tournament. “Celebrating like that when I score is my way of paying tribute to Tahiti, that’s all. It’s also become my trademark.” A quarter of an hour later Tehau was on the scoresheet again when he turned Oduamadi’s low cross into his own net, becoming the first player to score at both ends in a FIFA Confederations Cup match in the process.
Stat of the day
3 – Only three teams have failed to score at the FIFA Confederations Cup: Canada in 2001, Greece in 2005 and Iraq in 2009. Thanks to Tehau’s goal, Tahiti will not be among their number.
Quote of the day
"I was deeply moved, almost crying. We watch World Cups on TV. Today we were actors.Tahiti was watching. Our president sent us a message and suspended a cabinet meeting for it,” Eddy Etaeta, Tahiti coach.
Tuesday 18 June is a rest day for the eight competing teams in Brazil, but the hosts are preparing for a match with Mexico in Fortaleza on Wednesday (16.00 local time), while in Recife, fellow Group A teams Italy and Japan meet in the day’s evening kick-off (19.00).
Tweet of the day
GOAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! TAHITI!!!!!!! WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS!!!! #NeverGiveUp Tehau HERO!!!!!!