A day late and a change of venue has added unexpected twists and turns to an already heated competition with Australia and Vanuatu tied for the lead atop Group 2. Play in Group 2 of the Oceania U-20 qualifying tournament was moved to Raemaru Park on the western side of Rarotonga because of the condition of the pitch at the National Stadium.
Monday's matches had to be postponed due to persistent rain over the weekend. Weather conditions on Tuesday deteriorated with squally showers and thunderstorms and winds of up to 45 knots. These were signs that a cyclone was brewing and before the start of the first match the first cyclone warning that "Cyclone Uma" was 100 km south west of Rarotonga was made.
Therefore all matches today were played in high winds, heavy rain and flooded conditions at Raemaru Park. The referee deemed the conditions satisfactory for football but only just. In the first match rivals Tonga and Samoa played. The conditions made it difficult for football but the Samoa's Richard Faaivaso was a handful for the Tongans scoring the first goal in the 16th minute and setting up one other. His small light frame was an advantage in the heavy pitch. Although Tonga had some chances the conditions made it difficult. Samoa winning 3-0.
In the second match a fired up Cook Islands side took the game to the Vanuatu team. The conditions aided the local side as it continually slowed the play and allowed them to defend well and have some scoring opportunities. Vanuatu did not like the soggy pitch at all and were frustrated by the Cook Islands spoiling tactics. The only goal by Vanuatu in the first half came from 12, Samson Obed who had few chances but managed to shoot the ball wide of the keeper. The score would have been higher but for the goalkeeping of the Cook Islands goalkeeper, William Heather. A pleasing result from the Cook Islands who tried hard but went down 3-0.
The final game saw Papua New Guinea play favourites Australia. PNG thought the conditions would assist them, but the talent of Scott McDonald, Michael Ferrante and Nick Carle up front saw the Australians dominate the game. Australians had many chances but shots at goal were often stopped by the surface water short of the goal line. Papua New Guinea tried hard but the skills, fitness and structure of the Australian game proved too overwhelming despite the conditions. Australia dominated throughout as goalkeeper Jess Vanstraitan touched the ball a handful of times. Australia winning 6-0
Australia and Vanuatu remain unbeaten and they will play each other in the final round on Friday 23rd February. Australia will rest key players against the Cook Islands tomorrow while Vanuatu face a determined Tongan side.