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Hosts Vanuatu Secure Dominant Win At The OFC U-19 Men's Championship 2024 - Qualifying

Tournament hosts Vanuatu have scored the only win on the opening day of the OFC U-19 Men’s Championship 2024 - Qualifying, beating American Samoa 4-0 at VFF Freshwater Stadium in Port Vila.

After Tonga needed an added time goal to escape with a one-all draw against the Cook Islands in the day’s early match, it took Vanuatu just six minutes to set the platform for a dominant win over the southernmost territory of the United States.

With Vanuatu President Nikenike Vurobaravu and Prime Minister Charleroi Salwai watching on, midfielder Sergio Waoute delivered a long range speculator that beat American Samoa goalkeeper Felise Fata and had the home crowd roaring.

Expectations of a rout were tempered as the American Samoan offside trap proved difficult to break down, until the final minute of regulation time in the first half.

After six golden opportunities had been squandered, quicksilver striker Jacky Numake was finally rewarded for constant creativity with a 45th minute goal, repeating the dose five minutes into added time.

The second half started with the now familiar pattern of Vanuatu making sizzling breaks and creating gilt-edged opportunities only to be let down by poor finishing, a courageous Fata and the woodwork.

Goal number four finally appeared in the 70th minute when left winger Ronn Tasarur danced into the penalty area and his shot, initially looking like a clunky worm-burner, had enough velocity to squeeze between the left hand post and the despairing dive of Fata.

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The rest of the match was like Groundhog Day, The Football Edition - Vanuatu looking likely to score, American Samoa somehow managing to save. Rinse and repeat.

But the crowd, the President and Prime Minister were highly entertained and many will be back for another dose of age group action on Friday when the second round of matches take place, with American Samoa facing the Cook Islands and Tonga meeting Vanuatu.

Only the top ranked team after the three qualifying rounds will earn the final spot at the OFC Men’s Championship being held in Samoa this July.

Vanuatu: 4 (Sergio WAOUTE 6’, Jacky NUMAKE 45, 45+5’, Ronn TASARUR 70’)

American Samoa: 0

HT 3-0

A goal in added time has seen Tonga salvage a one-all draw against the Cook Islands in the opening match of the OFC U-19 Men’s Championship 2024 – Qualifying at VFF Freshwater Stadium in Port Vila.

The match see-sawed in the second spell, with both teams looking drained in the sapping humidity, until powerhouse Tongan midfielder Va’inga Teu found space in the box and fired home a powerful shot which gave youthful Cook Islands goalkeeper and captain Emmett Connolly – still eligible to play at Under-17 level – no chance.

Earlier after a settling in period, the Cook Islands were rewarded for their superior attacking intent in the 21st minute when Jack Tuakanangaro – on as a replacement for injured left winger Paulo Allsworth – met a cross beautifully to score the opening goal of the tournament.

The Cooks looked to have gone further ahead early in the second spell when the ball ended up in the back of the net from a corner, but referee Kyllian Lelarge ruled a foul and the goal was disallowed.

Teu was a stand-out figure for Tonga, especially on defence. In one segment of play he left two Cook Islanders writhing on the ground after strong, but perfectly legal, challenges. Minutes later he elicited a desperate fingertip save from Connolly with a dynamic long-range shot.

Vilikisepi Tai, who started at right back and shifted to the left wing, was also menacing in the final stanzas for Tonga as he thundered down the touchline. Desperate defending and a lack of composure with the final touch kept him at bay and the scoreboard attendant off the ladder he utilises to update the scoreline. Until the very first minute of added time.

Cook Islands coach Jess Ibrom was yellow carded in the 67th minute after voicing his displeasure at a challenge in the penalty box on attacking midfielder Ngametua Tuakana, who was subsequently helped off the field with a leg injury. It was one of four second half yellow cards for the Cook Islands, including a telling off for reserve goalkeeper Robert Savage on the bench.

In the next round of games, on Friday, the Cook Islands will tackle American Samoa while Tonga confronts Vanuatu. Only one of the four teams will qualify for the OFC Men’s Championship to be held in Samoa this July.

Tonga: 1 (Va’inga TEU 90+1)

Cook Islands: 1 (Jack TUAKANANGARO 21’)

HT 0-1

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