TOTI CITY ADVANCE TO NEXT STAGE
Toti City FC from Papua New Guinea has secured their passage to the final 8 in the Oceania’s premier club football competition as group runners-up, after playing out an entertaining 1-all draw with host Hienghene at Kone’s Stade Yoshida.
Although Hienghene Sport and Toti City lined up against each with qualification to the next stage already under their belt, there were plenty on offer on the final match in Group A with both sides desperate to top the table in order to secure a home ground advantage in the knock out stage.
Hosts Hienghene only needed a draw for group supremacy and their outlook got even brighter in the 9th minute when the lively Brice Dihate’s lovely touch and control allowed him to beat the keeper with a well executed shot to the delight of the home crowd.
Falling behind caused no panic for the Papua New Guineans who conceded early goals in all of their three matches of the tournament and Peter Gunemba’s troops were back on level terms in the 24th minute courtesy of Nigel Dabinyaba’s fourth goal of the competition.
An absorbing open contest developed for the remainder of the match with both sides creating clear cut chances only to be denied by poor finishing, desperate goal-line clearances and a number of top class saves.
Despite countless attempts on goal up until the dying minutes, neither side was able to break the deadlock forcing them to settle for a share of the points.
When the final whistle blew the vocal Hienghene supporters have rasied their arms in the air triumphantly, knowing Stade Yoshida will be one of the four home venues for the quarterfinals of the 2019 OFC Champions League on the weekend of 6 and 7 April.
Despite finishing on top of Group A, Hienghene coach Felix Kagawa refused to get carried away.
“We had so many opportunities and so many chances to finish the game but we were missing some pride and aggression and we didn’t press high enough so were forced back a bit in attack and when that happens doubt starts to creep into your game, explained Tagawa.
“Lucky we have a great goalkeeper and tonight he has proved his worth.
“We don’t underestimate our achievement of finishing on top of the group because we fought for it hard, it wasn’t easy,” said the Hienghene Sport coach.
Meanwhile, Toty City will find out their quarter-final destiny following the official draw at OFC’s Auckland head quarters on 5 March.
Coach Peter Gunemba is confident his side will be ready for any challenge ahead.
“I’m happy and thank God for the qualification, we came here to finish in the top two, of course our aim was to finish on top, unfortunately we couldn’t achieve that, but I thank the boys they fought very hard.
“We started slowly in the tournament but got better, we just have to work on the lapses of concentration at the back, because we made the same defensive mistakes that cost us silly goals,” admitted Gunemba.
“I know the quarter-final will be very tough game we will be playing away against a team with their crowd behind them, so we will go back and prepare for to be raedy wherever we will have to go,” said the Lae City coach.
Position Vacancy for Port Moresby based only.
PNG during the anthems. OFC Women’s Nations Cup 2018, Samoa vs. Papua New Guinea, Stade Yoshida, Kone, New Caledonia.
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