Football: Solomon Islands and New Zealand set up final clash

Samoa's Leah Manuleleua Solomon Islands Edith Nari. Women's Olympic Football Tournament, Oceania Qualifier Semi Final, Solomon Islands v Samoa, FFS Football Stadium Apia, Samoa, Friday 16 February 2024. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Photo: Shane Wenzlick /

The Solomon Islands have achieved their target at the OFC Women’s Olympic qualifier tournament in Apia by claiming a final spot.

It defeated host Samoa 2-0 in Apia on Friday to set up a final battle against New Zealand, who thrashed Fiji 7-1 in the second semi-final.

Solomon Islands coach Batram Suri told media at the post-match interview that he was proud of his players.

“I am proud because our primary target was to reach the final and we did it,” he said.

“So proud of the girls they worked their guts out until they reached the final whistle.”

Samoa held their much-favoured opponents scoreless in the first 45-minute spell.

Suri made changes in the second half, opting for runners to boost their attacks.

That move paid off when they scored two goals to claim victory and douse the Samoan spirits.

Second-half goals from substitute Sandy Aniholland and captain Ileen Pegi from the penalty spot did the damage for Suri’s side.

Samoa will feel slightly aggrieved, they had the ball in the back of the net early in the second half only to see it was ruled out for a foul on the goalkeeper.

Samoa came back into the match in the latter stages of the first half and created a couple of chances for Leah Manuleleua. They continued to pile on the pressure late on, with Torijan Lyne-Lewis having a shot blocked, and after some silky footwork, Sasjah Vikolia Dade forced Kofela into a diving save at her near post.

Solosaia had a superb effort from a distance right on the cusp of half-time for the Solomon Islands, which was tipped over the bar well by Salanoa.

New Zealand thrashed Fiji 7-1 in the second semi-final.

Photo: OFC Media via Phototek

Football Ferns too strong

A flurry of late goals in the first half put New Zealand well on their way to a place in the final after a 7-1 victory over Fiji in Apia.

A hat-trick from Grace Jale, alongside braces each from Jacqueline Hand and the excellent Indiah-Paige Riley ensured that the Kiwis will meet the Solomon Islands in Monday’s final.

Jitka Klimková’s side was a little sluggish in the opening stages of the first period but were still able to establish a two-goal lead with strikes from Riley and Hand giving them a platform to build upon.

Fiji – who finished second in their group following a 3-1 defeat to the Solomon Islands earlier in the week – were hoping to spring an upset but three goals scored in first-half stoppage time put paid to any hopes of a shock and all-but-settled matters before the break.

Fiji had their fair share of possession but struggled once finding themselves in the final third. Elesi Tabunase’s low effort from a distance was easily held by Anna Leat as Angelina Chua’s side tried to turn the tide.

There was a glimmer of joy for Fiji to cling on to in stoppage time. Cema Nasau took advantage of a loose ball in the New Zealand area to break between defenders and finish underneath Anna Leat, scoring the first goal that the Kiwis have conceded in this tournament.

Jitka Klimková and her side can now look forward to a final date with the Solomon Islands on Monday, with a place at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris up for grabs.