Solomon Islands Koloale FC, began their OFC Women’s Champions League campaign with a win following a stunning late winner against Labasa Women FC in Port Moresby over the weekend.

It was a closely fought match with both sides let down by poor finishing, with a draw seemingly inevitable before a 91st minute intervention.

The Koloale FC side were playing their first match of the tournament and dominated possession from the outset without really threatening Adi Tuwai in the Labasa Women FC goal.

Against the run of play Adi Vulitikoro had a golden chance to open the scoring when put through on goal in the 13th minute but her right foot shot was scuffed allowing Sylvester Maenu’u in the Koloale goal to make an easy save.

Three minutes later Koloale captain Ileen Pegi thundered a shot against the bar in what was the closest either team came to scoring up to that point.

Both captains, Pegi for Koloale and Jotavini Tabua for Labasa Women FC copped yellow cards for dangerous challenges late in the first half while Labasa’s Stella Naivalulevu fired a long range effort just wide a couple of minutes before the break.

Labasa Coach Arthur Simmons made one change to the side that beat Kiwi FC 6-0 on Thursday with Adi Vulitikoro coming in for Laite Matebalavu up front.

Chances were scare in a closely fought second half with Heidy Ericliufai released in the box in the 53rd minute by Pegi, but she fired high and wide.

Labasa’s best chance fell to Vulitikoro in the 78th minute from a free kick she found herself with acres of time and space in the box but hurried her shot and the chance went begging.

The points seemed destined to be shared until a beautiful through pass found Ileen Pegi in the box and the Koloale FC captain calmly stroked into the far corner to seal a dream start for the Solomon Islands side.

The Fiji side have three points from two games with the team from the Solomon Islands joining them on three after today’s late events.

The Koloale FC coach Crystal Bakolo drew inspiration from the bible to help motivate her team during the half-time break against Labasa Women FC in their OFC Women’s Champions League 2023 encounter in Port Moresby.

Reflecting on the 1-0 victory over the Fijian champions, achieved through a last minute winner from star forward and captain Ileen Pegi, Bakolo says she compared the two teams to David and Goliath when addressing the players at half-time.

“Coming into the changing room I was talking to the girls about David and Goliath, with regards to our sizes, the Fijians are really tall, they have their size, so I said hey it’s not over, Goliath is still there, but you David you have to give it a go,” Bakolo remarked.

And give it a go Koloale did. Despite a number of players struggling with injury niggles, the Solomon Islanders fought until the end and Bakolo felt they always had a goal in them.

“Anything can happen in the game and I knew the goal could come. It brings the confidence out of the players,” Bakolo said.

Pegi, in combination with her fellow forwards Heidy Ericliufai and Agnes Gitoli, were a constant threat and the experienced captain felt their understanding of each other’s role was crucial.

“We have played together for five years so we know exactly how we are playing. It’s overwhelming to score a goal, and get the three points and I’m excited for my teammates.” Pegi said.

Koloale FC next face Samoan side Kiwi FC today.