The semi-final line-up at the OFC Nations Cup has been completed after New Caledonia qualified with a 9-0 rout of Samoa, and Tahiti maintained their unblemished record to secure top spot in Group A with a 4-1 win over Vanuatu.
The day began with all four sides still in with a theoretical chance of qualifying, although Samoa’s status as the section’s whipping boys was confirmed by a heavy loss that left them having conceded 24 and scored just once in reply. New Caledonia certainly made short work of their fellow Pacific Islanders, with Jacques Haeko scoring five times en route to an emphatic 9-0 win. Roy Kayara, Iamel Kabeu, Judikael Ixoe and Kalase Gnipate were also on target as Alain Moizan's side comfortably clinched second place.
Squeezed into third were Percy Avock’s youthful Vanuatu side, who proved to be no match for the dominant Tahitians. As with in previous matches, the scoring was dominated by the Tehau brothers, with Jonathan, Alvin and Teaonui all on target as the group leaders advanced confidently to the semi-finals. Nicholas Valler had earlier got the ball rolling for Tahiti with a 15th-minute penalty, and Vanuatu were long since resigned to defeat by the time Robert Tasso pulled a goal back five minutes into stoppage time.
While Vanuatu and Samoa join Papua New Guinea in bidding the tournament farewell, New Caledonia and Tahiti march on to the last four of Oceania’s continental showpiece. The New Caledonians’ reward for finishing second is a semi-final against the winners of Group B, with New Zealand currently in pole position, while Tahiti – having comfortably topped Group A – will hope to maintain their 100 per cent record against whoever finishes second, with the Solomon Islands and Fiji their most likely opponents.
The semi-finals, both of which will be fought out in Honiura’s Lawson Tama Stadium, will take place on Friday at 11.00 and 15.00 respectively (local time). The four remaining teams are, of course, fighting not only for glory at the OFC Nations Cup, but for a place at the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013.