The OFC Nations Cup continues today at Lawson Tama Stadium in Honiara, Solomon Islands, with the four Group B teams set to play their second fixtures of the tournament.Defending champions New Zealand will face Papua New Guinea at 12pm local time before the hosts meet Fiji in one of the key matches of the tournament at 3pm local time.
Papua New Guinea vs. New Zealand - 12:00pm Monday 4 June
The gulf in rankings and reputation between these two sides indicates that the match will be a real David vs Goliath battle but New Zealand may find the going tougher than many are predicting.
Papua New Guinea will certainly be in no mood to gift three points to the All Whites as they are in dire need of those points themselves, having lost 1-0 to Solomon Islands on the opening day to leave their semi-final hopes hanging by a thread.
And if any of the New Zealand players had any doubts about how difficult this tournament could prove, those were quickly dispelled in yesterday's hard-fought 1-0 win over Fiji. The reigning Oceania kings clearly struggled in the heat during that game and if tomorrow dawns as a typically hot and humid Honiara day then the conditions will play into the hands of Papua New Guinea, whose players are used to these sorts of temperatures in their homeland.
A key aspect will also be the tactical battle between respective coaches Ricki Herbert and Frank Farina, familiar foes after playing and coaching against each other on many occasions. New Zealand goalkeeper Mark Paston is a doubt after suffering suspected concussion against Fiji while Farina's main concern is finding a way to get his strikers firing. In their own words "Everyone is expecting New Zealand to win the group but we will have to try to get something out of the game.
Otherwise it will be very difficult for us to get through. I've played and coached alot against Ricki and we get along well but obviously once it's game time they're going to be desperate to win and we'll be even more desperate. I think the players are looking forward to coming up against such a good side." - Papua New Guinea coach Frank Farina "This tournament has never been an easy one. Like everyone, we were just waiting to get that first game out of the way and it was nice to get the three points. Frank is a great guy and I have lots of fond memories of playing and coaching against him. By all accounts, he's done a good job with Papua New Guinea. I think tactically and organisation-wise they'll be very strong." - New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert.
Fiji vs. Solomon Islands - 3:00pm Monday 4 June
This has shaped up as one of the most significant clashes of the tournament and Lawson Tama Stadium will be full to the brim tomorrow afternoon as the Bonitos look to continue their path towards the semi-finals by following up their 1-0 success over Papua New Guinea with another victory. The need for a win is great in both camps as Solomon Islands will face New Zealand in their final pool match - a nation they have never gotten the better of - and Fiji are yet to get off the mark after losing 1-0 to the All Whites yesterday.
The Fijians can take heart from their performance in that encounter though as they pushed their more-fancied rivals all the way and showed enough to suggest they can still be a force in this tournament. New Zealand-based striker Roy Krishna caused problems for the All Whites defence and he will be the man the likes of Nelson Sale Kilifa and Tome Faisi must try to contain.
At the other end, Fiji will have to be just as careful with Benjamin Totori, who scored the winner against Papua New Guinea and looked in fine form, on hand to pounce on any slip-ups. Indeed, the fans that cram into Lawson Tama have a real treat in store as Krishna and Totori are regarded as being among the finest strikers in the Pacific and whichever of the pair has their shooting boots on will be a major factor in the outcome.
In their own words "We need to put the result against New Zealand behind us and look towards our next two games. It won't be easy because Solomon Islands are a good team as well but it will be a different sort of game because the Pacific Island teams do not play the same kind of football. The Solomons have great skill, good control of the ball and play a lot with just one or two touches." - Fiji coach Juan Carlos Buzzetti.
"I didn't see Fiji play in their first match but one of our coaches was there to analyse the game and we will work out together how to play them. We need to make sure we take our opportunities because we didn't do that as much as we should've against Papua New Guinea. I told the players we would need to score early and we did but now we have to work on obtaining more of an advantage once we go in front." - Solomon Islands technical advisor Laurent Papillon
Papua New Guinea vs. New Zealand, 12:00pm, Monday 4 JuneLawson Tama Stadium, Honiara, Solomon Islands Referee: Bruce GEORGE [VAN]Assistant Referee 1: Michael JOSEPH [VAN]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 New Zealand:
1. Mark PASTON [GK], 2. Tim MYERS, 3. Tony LOCHHEAD, 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 McGEORGE, Coach: Ricki HERBERT
Fiji vs. Solomon Islands, 3:00pm, Monday 4 June,Lawson Tama Stadium, Honiara, Solomon Islands
Referee: Kader ZITOUNI [TAH] Assistant Referee 1: Tevita MAKASINI [TGA]Assistant Referee 2: Paul AHUPU [TAH]4th Official: Norbert HAUATA [TAH]
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
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: Jacob MOLI
Source: Press Release, OFC Media Office