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Hill To Climb For Fiji: Dutt

The calculators will be out in force for the final day of Group B action at the 2016 OFC U-17 Women’s Championship in Rarotonga, as three teams battle for two
19 Jan 2016 12:29
Hill To Climb For Fiji: Dutt
The Fiji U17 team during the 2016 OFC U17 Women’s Championship in the Cook Islands. Photo: OFC

The calculators will be out in force for the final day of Group B action at the 2016 OFC U-17 Women’s Championship in Rarotonga, as three teams battle for two semi-final spots today.

Just like Group A, the Group B encounters will be played across simultaneous kick-offs at the CIFA Academy and Takitumu School.

Papua New Guinea sit in the box seat, leading the group with a three-point buffer and a goal difference advantage over Fiji and Vanuatu.

It is unlikely – but still possible – that Margaret Aka’s side will miss out on advancing to the semifinals.

Vanuatu and Fiji on the other hand are locked in a tight tussle, with the latter holding a goal difference advantage of seven, but with Vanuatu having won the head-to-head clash between them on Sunday.

Fiji face a tough encounter against PNG,  who showed good character to come from behind and beat the hosts on Sunday.

Coach Yogendra Dutt’s Fiji side have had a mixed tournament so far, in what is their first time competing at an OFC U-17 Women’s Championship.

They looked convincing for patches in the 3-2 loss to Vanuatu, but couldn’t convert enough of their attacking chances into goals.

“We know we have a difficult hill to climb. We will be doing our best and even if we don’t qualify for the semifinals we will make sure we go out in a respectable way,” Dutt said.

“We will put past results at the tournament behind us now.”

For PNG the message is clear from Aka, who wants to see her team become more economical with the ball and improve their work in attack.

“We are going to really have to step up in the way we attack,” Aka said.

“We want to play more direct and use the ball on the ground to our advantage. Fiji are a tall team so we can’t rely on the high ball, keeping it on the ground will be vital.”

 

Vanuatu coach

Joel Rarua says making sure his side maintain concentration for the full 90 minutes has been central to their preparations.

“We will try and improve our focus and stick to the plan. We are really looking forward to the Cook Islands game,” Rarua said.

For his counterpart in the Cook Islands dugout, Tuka Tisam, the game is a chance to restore some pride and give their home fans something to cheer about after a 3-0 loss to Fiji in the opening game followed by the narrow defeat to PNG.

“There is plenty on the line for the girls still,” Tisam said.

 

PNG

Vital statistics: Papua New Guinea’s nine goals so far gives them the second-best attacking record in the competition, behind only New Zealand.

The players: Belinda Giada’s six goals means she leads the Golden Boot race right now, and for good reason. Evasive and accurate, Giada needs only half a chance to find the back of the net.

 

Fiji

Vital statistics: Fiji join New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu as the only teams who have scored a goal in both of their opening two games.

The players: Captain Cecelia Nainima has been a solid performer at the back and how she contains the fast Papua New Guinea attack will be crucial to the eventual outcome of this match. OFC

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