Tahiti and New Caledonia ended the opening day of the 2012 OFC Nations Cup as the big winners, with the scoreboard attendant forced to work overtime as the goals rained down. Spectators that braved the heat at the Lawson Tama Stadium in Honiara witnessed 18 goals across just two matches as Tahiti swamped Samoa 10-1, while New Caledonia survived a Vanuatu comeback for a 5-2 victory. The wins leaving the two victors having already made a giant stride towards qualifying for Oceana’s third and final stage of 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ qualifying, with the four semi-finalists to progress
After a five-year wait to resume their FIFA World Cup journey, Tahiti wasted little time in finding their goalscoring form. Lorenzo Tehau had the honour of scoring the tournament’s first goal and his strike after eight minutes was a sign of things to come for the Tahitians, with the striker finishing the match with four. Eddy Etaeta’s charges never looked like being headed and held a 4-0 advantage by half-time. Silas Malo bagged a consolation for the Round One victors midway through the second half, however a hat-trick of goals in the final ten minutes for Tehau left the Tahitians well placed after the opening day.
In the late match New Caledonia survived a second-half comeback from Vanuatu to end up with a handsome win and ensure a positive day’s work for Group A’s francophone duo. Striker Bertrand Kai scored a treble for New Caledonia who appeared well on their way to victory thanks to his opener just past the half-hour mark. Vanuatu’s youthful line-up turned in a spirited display to twice draw level, however, parity lasted barely five minutes before New Caledonia put the result beyond doubt with further goals.
*Results *Samoa 1-10 Tahiti
Vanuatu 2-5 New Caledonia
While both victors have already made strong claims for a semi-final berth, it is the latter result which could prove pivotal with both Vanuatu and New Caledonia having reached the final four in South Africa 2010 qualifying.
*Next up *Continental champions New Zealand will have the opportunity to show their wares on Saturday when they face Fiji in a key match-up, while hosts Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea will have little scope for error in the late contest.