Tuesday, 5 October 2010 7:47 AM

Solomon's Women Soccer Team Reach Semi-Finals

Solomon Islands have booked a place in the semi-finals of the OFC Women's Nations Cup in Auckland, New Zealand.

Solomon Islands encountered a physically tough Fiji side, but made full use of their speed. Few chances fell to either side with Solomon's striker Ileem Pegi going closest in the dying stages only to see her shot blocked by goalkeeper Lice Waqailiti.

The second spell was a more exciting spectacle as both teams pushed for a winner. Solomon's goalkeeper Betty Sade made a fingertip save in the 77th minute to deny Kurukaba Ligavola while Fiji defender Lajipa Rasaku almost scored an own goal moments later as she chased down the ever-dangerous Pegi.

With plenty of pride to play for, Fiji almost had the winner in the 83rd minute as Ligavola broke through on goal only to strike her shot against the left-hand upright.

Fiji coach Ramesh Sharma was philosophical about his side's performances during the week.

"We've had a lot of missed opportunities and the results have been disappointing. But we've given it our best shot and we want to retain these girls and build towards the Pacific Games next year."

Solomon Islands meanwhile have shown how far they have come since the last edition of the competition in 2007 when they managed just one goal and conceded 14 to pick up the wooden spoon.

Solomon Islands will now take on New Zealand's Football Ferns in the first semi-finals today at 1pm while the other semi-finalists Papua New Guinea will take on Cook Islands.

Assistant coach Diane Justus, who was part of that squad three years ago, says her team has high aspirations this time around.

"We didn't play that well today but we're happy because we're through to the next stage," she says.

"Our goal coming into the tournament was to go home with a medal and we're on track for that. New Zealand will be a very tough side but it will be a great experience for our girls, especially the ones who are playing for their national team for the first time."

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By STEVE BANI Vura Heights, East Honiara
By GEOFFREY MAURIASI USP, Lacuala Campus, Fiji
By CHARLES KOULI Gizo, Western Province