SPORTS

Fiji, PNG Set Pace In Group B

Rarotonga: Papua New Guinea and Fiji remain the sides to beat as their opening Group B victories set them apart from their opponents in the 2016 OFC U-17 Women’s Championship.
17 Jan 2016 15:06
Fiji, PNG Set Pace In Group B
Cema Nsasau tries to outrun two defenders during Fiji's game against the Cook Islands during the 2016 OFC U-17 Women's Championship on Saturday. Photo: OFC

Rarotonga: Papua New Guinea and Fiji remain the sides to beat as their opening Group B victories set them apart from their opponents in the 2016 OFC U-17 Women’s Championship.

Fiji were a relative unknown coming into this tournament but more than proved themselves a worthy contender with their desire and drive against the hosts winning 3-0 last Friday.

Powerful and athletic, Cema Nasau was an exciting addition to the midfield. With her ability to move the ball, and the finishing of players like Aliza Hussein Fiji will be a tough side for Vanuatu to deal with. Fiji plays Vanuatu 1.30pm today.

A strong debut on the regional stage for Yogendra Dutt’s charges, but the experienced former Ba coach sees room for improvement.

“I haven’t seen the Vanuatu girls play. We’ll be playing a team we don’t know just as it was with the Cooks, and we will do our best,”Dutt said.

While Joel Rarua’s team have talent to burn in the form of Annie Gere, Leimata Simon and Delphine Kalmet on attack, the side’s lack of competitive football showed in the 7-1 drubbing against PNG.

Making things difficult for the slight Ni-Vanuatu players will be the physical nature of the Fijian game but Rarua will no doubt have some ideas on the best approach to counter that.

“There were some positive things to take from our last game,” Rarua said.

“But we need to work harder on executing our plan that we prepare. We will have a look at Fiji and know what to expect and then hopefully the girls can play better.”

PNG’s comprehensive opening victory has put them in good stead to pull ahead of the Group B pack if they can follow up with a similar performance against Cook Islands.

Margaret Aka’s side boasts some of the most experienced players of this competition behind New Zealand and that showed in their approach against Vanuatu.

With a few niggles and knocks, Aka will be reassessing her side ahead of this next encounter with a view to keeping her squad as intact as possible for the knockout stage should they qualify.

“We will take it easy in the build-up to give the girls some rest, but we need to work on our defence ahead of the Cook Islands match,” she said.

“We want to get better at our man and zonal marking, and we need to work together as a team a lot better on that side of the ball.”

Cook Islands will be disappointed they couldn’t deliver a win for the home crowd, but coach Tuka Tisam can’t say they didn’t give their all on the pitch.

Captain Susan Williams will have another tough task to rally the side against PNG while also having to deal with the speed and talent of the opposing strikers.

“We need to improve for the next game against PNG. I’m guessing it’s going to be physical again,” he said. OFC

 

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