The race for the remaining podium berths is a much tighter race with Tahiti and Vanuatu breathing down the neck of the New Zealanders who have one more win, but face what will likely be a New Caledonia side determined to finish on a high.
Tahiti and Vanuatu both started the competition slow and have been building their performances each match day so we can expect them to be at their peak for today’s opening encounter.
The mixed results for Vanuatu were far from what Louis Dominique expected coming into the competition, but he’s seen progress in his side and with a number of young talents emerging expects the experience to boost future campaigns.
“We have to win this one. We are looking forward to it and we know we have to perform the best we can to win,” the Vanuatu coach says.
Likewise for Tahiti’s Jacob Tutavae who wants a podium finish for his side to reward the months of hard work they put in, in preparation for the competition.
“We’re ready mentally, more so than in the first couple of days,” he says.
“We’ll try and look at a couple of aspects of the game that didn’t work yesterday because today is the last match and it’s important to finish the competition with a win.”
Solomon Islands coach Juliano Schmeling has considered every match at this competition a final, and today will be no different despite the fact Fiji is yet to get a point.
He is right to be cautious as Fiji came out flying against the wounded Futsal Whites and while they didn’t cause an upset, held them to just a 3-1 victory which, after Fiji’s 9-1 loss to Tahiti two days earlier, few thought possible.
“I believe they’ll come very strong at us, especially as they are playing at home and they are yet to get any points,” Schmeling says.
“It’s another final. It’s five finals, four are gone and we have one more left.”
In the final encounter of the day, and the tournament, New Zealand and New Caledonia will face off in an effort to get much needed points on the board.
New Zealand are considered the stronger of the two sides, but in 2014 the Caledonians got a 2-1 victory over their neighbours which will be a morale boost going into this encounter.
New Caledonia have one last chance at getting a victory here in Fiji and they’ll be putting everything they’ve got into this encounter. Despite a strong performance they fell to Tahiti which will have left them with an even greater desire to triumph here today.
For New Zealand the sting of losing to Solomon Islands on Match Day 3 remains and with the Kurukuru beating Vanuatu yesterday, the knowledge that they are effectively out of the title race showed in the Futsal Whites lacklustre performance against Fiji.
To their credit, the jolt of Fiji coming hard at them woke the side up and they did enough to secure the 3-1 win, but New Caledonia are a different side with different skills and a different mindset to the hosts which makes them a threat to New Zealand’s hopes of securing silver.
“The goal is now second but second is not what we came here for so it’s disappointing from that side,” Scott Gilligan, Futsal Whites coach, says.
“Today will be a much harder game so hopefully the boys are up for it. We’ve just got to say to them that we can’t drop our standard.”
For William Bret it’s one last chance to show that the team he has been working with for the past three years is better than some of the results indicate.
“I don’t think anyone is here not to win. We want to leave here with a victory and nothing else.”
Tahiti vs. Vanuatu
Saturday 13 February 2016
Kick-off: 3pm (local)
Referee 1: Chris SINCLAIR (NZL)
Referee 2: Kamedra NAIDU (FIJ)
Third Official: Philip MANA (SOL)
Timekeeper: Francis RONI (SOL)
Vital Statistics: 35 per cent of Tahiti’s 31 shots were on target against New Caledonia. They had 57 per cent of the possession, with the large majority held in the middle third.
The Players: Teivarii Kaiha is an incredible work horse for Tahiti pressing high, dropping to defend and he also does exceptionally well for the side when he comes into play as the fifth man.
Coach Quote: “It’s very important to finish the competition with a win so we’ll be giving everything in our match to get the victory.”
Tahiti: 1. Teva DUROT (GK), 2. Bea MATANA, 3. Steeve WONG, 4. Tamanui TURIHONO, 5. Manea RATEAU, 6. Alexis TOOFA, 7. Gabriel KAVERA, 8. Utiera PUKOKI, 9. Anderson TINO, 10. Teivarii KAIHA, 11. Tane TAVE, 12. Smith TINO, 13. Heimana FAARAHIA, 14. Paul PITO (GK)
Coach: Jacob TUTAVAE (TAH)
Vital Statistics: While their first half was the better performance against Solomon Islands, Vanuatu actually had slightly more possession in the second half. However the rate of shots, and those that were on target, was better in the first.
The Players: Joseph Hanghangkon has progressed with every match and held his own well against the more experienced Solomon Islanders. Serge Daniel had an outstanding game in goal and made some spectacular saves.
Coach Quote: “We will have to work on some of our mistakes from yesterday’s game and that’s we are going to start.”
Vanuatu: 1. Serge DANIEL (GK), 2. Terry MALAPA, 3. Don MANSALE, 4. Dudley DOMINIQUE, 5. Jacky JOHN, 6. Morsen LUIE, 7. Ben HUNGAI, 8. Pakoa RAKOM, 9. Donald AVOCK, 10. Ricky TUIGALOA, 11. Joseph HANGHANGKON, 12. Jimmy MALAP (GK), 13. George MAHIT
Coach: Louis DOMINIQUE (VAN)
Fiji vs. Solomon Islands
Saturday 13 February 2016
Kick-off: 5.30pm (local)
Referee 1: Antony RILEY (NZL)
Referee 2: Darius TURNER (AUS)
Third Official: Love Lui MALENARAVE (VAN)
Timekeeper: Ryan SHEPHEARD (AUS)
Vital Statistics: Fiji have managed to score in each of their matches so far. Against New Zealand they had just 40 per cent of possession but equalled the Futsal Whites for shots, but bettered them by 14 to 10 for shots on target.
The Players: Altaaf Sahib has taken his brother Mira’s lead, directing play and assisting his teammates to better understand the game. Maciu Talisau made his debut in goal, a loss for the outfield. While he made a couple of crucial mistakes he did well to keep New Zealand to just three.
Coach Quote: “Like yesterday, we will try our best to learn something. We know Solomon Islands are in a class of their own so we will just try to work out how we can manage that.”
Fiji: 1. Ulaiasi TAMANISAU (GK), 2. Prashant PRASAD, 3. Praveet SINGH, 4. Mira SAHIB, 5. Shelvin CHAND, 6. Suraj CHAND, 7. Vineet NADAN, 8. Akitesh KUMAR, 9. Rodrick CHAND, 10. Dhiraj KUMAR, 11. Altaaf SAHIB, 12. Anish KUMAR, 13. Kevin SINGH, 20. Maciu TUILAU (GK)
Coach: Intiaz KHAN (FIJ)
Vital Statistics: Solomon Islands are set to become the first Oceania side to win five OFC Futsal Championship titles. They had an impressive 42 per cent of their shots against Vanuatu on target yesterday.
The Players: James Egeta has improved as the competition has progressed. Anthony Talo is having an excellent campaign in goal and George Stevenson has edged ahead of the pack in the race for the Golden Boot.
Coach Quote: “Two friendly games against Australia, and two friendly games against two local Sydney clubs definitely helped us in our preparations. But of course, if I had more time I would like to have had more games.”
Solomon Islands: 1. Anthony TALO (GK), Alvin HOU, 3. Elliot RAGOMO, 4. George STEVENSON, 5. Francis LAFAI, Robert LAUA, 7. James EGETA, 8. Jeffery BULE, 9. Micah LEA’ALAFA, 10. Samuel OSIFELO, 11. Coleman MAKAU, 12. Paul HUIA (GK), 13. Jack WETNEY, 14. Mathias SARU
Coach: Juliano SCHMELING (BRA)
New Zealand vs. New Caledonia
Saturday 13 February 2016
Kick-off: 8pm (local)
Referee 1: Rex KAMASU (SOL)
Referee 2: Jainut DEAN (FIJ)
Third Official: Amitesh BEHARI (FIJ)
Timekeeper: Aten KUMAR (FIJ)
Vital Statistics: New Zealand currently sit second in the standings with nine points, three more than Tahiti with whom they share a goal difference of 5. Victory over New Caledonia would surely see them pick up silver.
The Players: Dylan Manickum impressed not only with his skills but his emergence as a leader against Fiji. He was key to directing a number of plays and even got on the score board.
Coach Quote: “They’ll want to finish on a high as well and it’s up to us to take up that challenge and turn the tables on them this time.”
New Zealand: 1. Ata ELAYYAN (GK), 2. Luc SAKER, 3. Tai BARHAM, 4. Stephen ASHBY-PECKHAM, 5. James VAUGHAN, 6. Kareem OSMAN, 7. Marvin EAKINS, 8. Daniel BURNS, 9. Jakub SINKORA, 10. Dylan MANICKUM, 11. Lucas CORDEIRO OSORIO DA SILVA, 12. Elias BILLEH (GK), 13. Miroslav MALIVUK, 14. Brayden LISSINGTON
Coach: Scott GILLIGAN (AUS)
Vital Statistics: New Caledonia picked up seven fouls against Tahiti but will need to get that under control against the Kiwis if they want the win they desire. They got 26 shots off but just five on target is not good enough.
The Players: Yesterday’s goal scorer Jean Michel Denis Poadae had a great game and will need to deliver more of the same against New Zealand. Ivann Pourouoro remains a consistent and reliable presence, though gave away a couple of loose passes to Tahiti that he will be keen not to repeat today.
Coach Quote: “We know New Zealand, they’re a great team, and they’re well prepared and have a great coach. It’s up to us to work as we did yesterday, with a bit more success.”
New Caledonia: 1. Ronan EUZEN (GK), 2. Mainon KAOUWI, 3. Jean Michel Denis POADAE, 4. Christ Roland PEI, 5. Ivann POUROURORO, 6. Maurice HAMU, 7. Ludovic BOIT, 8. Loic CAUNES, 9. Franck GELLENONCOURT, 10. Malik PAULET, 11. Jess POUARAIROUA, 12. Marcel PABOU 13. Jone UE, 16. Arnaud LLAMBRICH (GK)
Coach: William BRET (FRA)