Solomon Islands open their campaign with a hard-fought 1-0 victory against Vanuatu at the OFC U-19 Men’s Championship 2024 in Apia.

Despite the disruption getting to Samoa, the Solomon Islands showed none of it phased them, after going up one-nil inside the opening 20 minutes.

Solomon Islands captain Paul Francis’s through ball cut the Vanuatu defence, which James Laena latched on to before powering his shot past goalkeeper Joseph Nakou.

Laena was a constant threat down Vanuatu’s left-hand side and almost created a second when he crossed it to the back post, but the defence managed to clear the danger in time.

A wild shot from distance from Sergio Waoute summed up Vanuatu’s frustrations in the first half as the Solomon Islands dominated possession and shots on target.

They almost added another on the stroke of half-time, but Laena who was in acres of space lifted his over the crossbar, leaving the score one-nil at the break.

The flow of the second-half was impacted by multiple injuries and players succumbing to cramp under the hot conditions in Apia.

Vanuatu grew into the contest towards the end of the second period, utilising the pace of substitute Jacky Numake, who just couldn’t find the target.

Solomon Islands pushed to add to their one goal advantage and came within inches of doubling it, Sergio Waoute’s curling effort just drifting wide of the top left-hand corner.

With time nearly expired Manuel Lorren was handed a second yellow card, leaving Vanuatu with 10 men for the remainder of added time. Lorren will now miss their next match on Monday.

The victory gives the Solomon Islands the perfect start to their campaign, whilst Vanuatu will look to rebound on match day two, when they face Tahiti.

Solomon Islands: 1 (James LAENA 17’)
Vanuatu: 0