Tahiti have won their way into the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup for the first time after a shock 4-3 victory over Solomon Islands ended the Bilikiki’s reign as the only Oceania nation to appear at the global event.
The Solomons entered the match as red hot favourites having won all three previous Oceania tournaments, as well as defeated their opponents 4-1 in the final group match just a day earlier.
Despite the support of a vocal home crowd in Papeete the match appeared set for a predictable outcome when the Bilikiki’s Nicholas Muri scored in the opening minute. However goals in the first period to Patrick Tepa, Teiva Izal and captain Naea Bennett changed the course of the contest, before Marama Amau gave the home side a three-goal cushion which ultimately proved insurmountable.
The victory marks only the second time Tahiti have qualified for a FIFA tournament following in the footsteps of their U-20 team who qualified for Egypt 2009. The 2011 edition of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup will be held in Ravenna, Italy during September.