Wednesday, 6 June 2012 9:17 AM
Hosts to Take on All Whites Today
The OFC Nations Cup continues today at Lawson Tama Stadium in Honiara, Solomon Islands, with the four Group B teams set to play their final pool fixtures of the tournament.
Papua New Guinea will face Fiji at 12pm local time before defending champions New Zealand and hosts Solomon Islands square off at 3pm local time.
Here's a look at the action that's in store.
Papua New Guinea vs. Fiji - 12:00pm Wednesday 6 June
The sides go into this clash with contrasting motives as Papua New Guinea have already been forced to give up on their semi-final dreams while Fiji are still very much in the running for that all-important top four, a placing that brings with it qualification for stage three of World Cup qualifying.
Papua New Guinea, expertly coached by former Australia boss Frank Farina, have performed strongly in their two matches but are yet to post a win, due mainly to their inability to find the net.
A 1-0 defeat to Solomon Islands on the opening day was followed by a 2-1 loss to New Zealand and they have not scored in open play, that lone strike against the All Whites coming from a Neil Hans penalty.
But with nothing to lose against Fiji, Farina has every reason to throw off the shackles and try to sign off with a win - a considerable feat given Papua New Guinea did not compete in Oceania's two previous World Cup-qualifying campaigns.
The Fiji players are likely to be far more tense as they must earn three points and then hope Solomon Islands fail to take anything from New Zealand to have any chance of going through. Like Papua New Guinea, they have struggled in front of goal and are yet to score in their two matches, a 1-0 loss to New Zealand and scoreless draw with Solomon Islands.
Unlike Papua New Guinea though, their lack of goals has been due more to poor finishing than a failure to create enough chances. Wealth of opportunities was spurned against Solomon Islands, target man Osea Vakatalesau being particularly guilty, and they cannot afford to be so wasteful tomorrow. The Fiji camp suffered a blow earlier this week when coach Juan Carlos Buzzetti fractured his hip in a fall at the team hotel and he is unlikely to appear on the sidelines again at this tournament, leaving the coaching duties to assistant Imdad Ali.
In their own words "Having to rely on Fiji to beat the Solomons yesterday was not the situation we wanted to be in. But the objective doesn't change whether we're alive or dead, we were always going to try to win this last game. We played very well against New Zealand and that's the way we'd been playing in our preparations but unfortunately we didn't play as well as we could have in the first game." - Papua New Guinea coach Frank Farina
"The heat is affecting all the teams and our boys started to fade when it was very hot yesterday. We didn't pick up again until it was a bit cooler later on and we didn't have enough time left by then. We have to beat Papua New Guinea if we want to stay in contention. All the teams have come prepared and they are no different." - Fiji coach Imdad Ali
New Zealand vs. Solomon Islands - 3:00pm Wednesday 6 June
This match-up is one the football-mad locals of Honiara have been eagerly awaiting since the tournament kicked off and the hosts' great need to secure a result has now given it even more significance.
The thousands who have crammed into Lawson Tama Stadium this week rarely get the chance to see players of New Zealand's calibre first hand and the ground is sure to be full to the brim once more as those fanatical fans line up to see their very own mix it with Oceania's finest.
Unfortunately for Bonitos coach Laurent Papillon, his charges will have to do more than just compete with the All Whites as they need at least a draw to make sure of their safe passage to the semi-finals. But Papillon had clearly planned for that possibility as he took the opportunity to rest a handful of his key figures - including Benjamin Totori, Joses Nawo and Hardies Aengari - in the scoreless stalemate with Fiji.
If the Bonitos do fall to a defeat against New Zealand - a nation they have never triumphed over - then they need to make sure it is not by a large margin as their goal differential is only slightly better than that of Fiji, who would progress if they beat Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands lose by more than 1-0.
One factor working in Papillon's favour is that New Zealand have already qualified for the semi-finals so coach Ricki Herbert may choose to rest the likes of Shane Smeltz, Chris Killen, Ivan Vicelich and Michael McGlinchey, instead giving chances to newcomers such as Ian Hogg, Tim Myers, Adam McGeorge and Tim Payne.
Left fullback Hogg is almost certain to start due to the suspension of Tony Lochhead, the unchallenged incumbent of that position for some years. In their own words "All the other teams are up for it against us which I think is good from our perspective. It keeps us where we need to be and the performances are going to have to be good.
That's the challenge we face but we're two from two which is a good start for us." - New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert "Papua New Guinea can help us tomorrow by getting a result against Fiji but I prefer not to think about that and focus on winning the game against New Zealand.
They have already made the semi-finals so do not need to beat us. I don't know what Ricki will do but if I was in his shoes I would protect my key players." - Solomon Islands coach Laurent Papillon
Papua New Guinea vs. Fiji 12:00pm, Wednesday 6 June, Lawson Tama Stadium, Honiara, Solomon Islands
Referee: Kader ZITOUNI [TAH]Assistant Referee 1: Tevita MAKASINI [TGA]Assistant Referee 2: Terry PIRI [COK]4th Official: Isidore ASSIENE-AMBASSA [NCL]
Team Papua New Guinea:
1. Leslie KALAI [GK], 2. Kila IARAVAI, 3. Valentine NELSON, 4. Daniel JOE, 5. Kelly JAMPU, 6. Samuel KINI, 7. Raymond GUNEMBA, 8. Michael FOSTER, 9. Kema JACK, 10. Reginald DAVANI, 11. Felix BONDALUKE, 12. David MUTA, 13. Andrew LEPANI, 14. Neil HANS, 15. Jamal SEETO, 16. Jeremy YASASA, 17. Maurie WASI, 18. Ericson KOMENG, 19. Koriak UPAIGA, 20. Godfrey BANIAU [GK], 21. Ronald CONN, 22. Wira WAMA, 23. Paul KAWIK [GK], Coach: Frank FARINA
Team Fiji: 1. Simione TAMANISAU [GK], 2. Avinesh SUWAMY, 3. Paulo POSIANO, 4. Samuela VULA, 5. Taniela WAQA, 6. Alvin SINGH, 7. Pita BOLAITOGA, 8. Osea VAKATALESAU, 9. Alvin AVINESH, 10. Roy KRISHNA, 11. Remueru TEKIATE, 12. Laitia TUILAU, 13. Maciu DUNADAMU, 14. Samuela KAUTOGA, 15. Apisai SMITH, 16. Archie WATKINS, 17. Peni LESUBULAMAILEPANONI, 18. Ilisoni TUINAWAIVUVU, 19. Misaele DRAUNIBAKA, 20. Beniaminio MOJITO [GK]
Coach: Juan Carlos BUZZETTI
New Zealand vs. Solomon Islands, 3:00pm, Wednesday 6 June Lawson Tama Stadium, Honiara, Solomon Islands
Referee: Norbert HAUATA [TAH] Assistant Referee 1: Paul AHUPU [TAH]Assistant Referee 2: Michael JOSEPH [VAN]4th Official: Bruce GEORGE [VAN]
Team New Zealand:
1. Mark PASTON [GK], 2. Tim MYERS, 4. Ben SIGMUND, 5. Tommy SMITH, 6. Ian HOGG, 7. Leo BERTOS, 8. Michael McGLINCHEY, 9. Shane SMELTZ, 10. Chris KILLEN, 11. Marco ROJAS, 12. Glen MOSS [GK], 13. Jake GLEESON [GK], 14. Rory FALLON, 15. Ivan VICELICH, 16. Jeremy BROCKIE, 17. Kosta BARBAROUSES, 18. Aaron CLAPHAM, 19. Michael BOXALL, 20. Chris WOOD, 21. Cameron HOWIESON, 22. Tim PAYNE, 23. Adam McGEORGECoach: Ricki HERBERT
Team Solomon Islands:
1. Shadrack RAMONI [GK], 2. Hardies AENGARI, 3. Mostyn BEUI, 4. Jeffery BULE, 5. Henry FA'ARODO, 6. Tome FAISI, 7. Abraham INIGA, 8. Timothy JOE, 9. Freddie KINI, 10. Joe LUWI, 11. Nicholas MURI, 12. James NAKA, 13. Leslie NATE, 14. Joses NAWO, 15. Seni NGAVA, 16. Loni QARABA, 17. Nelson Sale KILIFA, 18. Himson TELEDA, 19. Benjamin TOTORI, 20. Felix RAY JR [GK], 21. Joshua TUASULIA, 22. Jack WETNEY, 23. Aleck WICKHAM, Coach: Laurent PAPILLON