The equation is simple for Papua New Guinea, who must beat Samoa by five goals or more in this evening’s opening game to secure their place in the last four.
Francophone rivals Tahiti and New Caledonia will determine the final make-up of the semis when they meet in a repeat of the 2012 title decider.
Following two hard fought draws against the defending champions and the runners-up from four years ago, PNG hold their destiny in their own hands.
Dangerous striker Tommy Semmy’s return from suspension will be a major boost to the hosts who must go on the attack from the outset.
Captain David Muta says the players will give all they have to thank the home crowd for their support.
“It’s for the home crowd as they always make us stand up on our feet for the full 90 minutes. Because of the crowd the boys play their hearts out, we play for our home fans,” he says.
“Samoa is a really good team and we can’t underestimate them. We take every team as very difficult and we have to apply our game plan against them.”
On the back of two defeats, Samoa have nothing but pride to play for in their final group match.
The tournament has been a big learning curve for the Samoans so far and coach Scott Easthope believes that every match is an opportunity for his team to gain valuable experience and improve.
He says the players are looking forward to their final outing.
“We’ve prepared for all of these teams to be really tough. Papua New Guinea have been playing some really good football and obviously have some real speed in their line-up.
“We are going to have to make sure that we’ve got the players on the pitch that can deal with their physicality and their speed.”
Both Tahiti and New Caledonia will have one eye on PNG’s clash with Samoa before they lock horns in their much anticipated match at 7pm.
The New Caledonians have a superior goal difference over Tahiti thanks to their 7-0 victory which means a draw will be enough for them to progress.
On the other hand, Thierry Sardo’s men are well aware that a defeat would deliver a fatal blow to their Nations Cup hopes.
Les Cagous will also be motivated to avenge their loss to their French Polynesian rivals in the 2012 title decider and Sardo is expecting a tough ecounter.
“There is always a lot of friction between New Caledonia and Tahiti. This time the side that loses will be eliminated so it’s up to us to be strong and win the match.”
Reigning champions Tahiti will be expecting a stern test to their title defence by New Caledonia.
The Tahitians know that if PNG beats Samoa by five goals or more, they must win to keep their Nations Cup campaign alive.
The French Polynesians will be without their talismanic captain Nicolas Vallar who is suspended for the match along with Tamatoa Tetauira.
Coach Ludovic Graugnard admits that Vallar’s absence is a blow to his side’s chances.
“I’ve lost my central defender, captain and a key player in Nicolas Vallar who received a red card. So we need to reconstruct our defence for Sunday’s match.”
The OFC would like to acknowledge its partners Telikom PNG, iRENA, and its supporters Dream Inn, Tru Tru Wara and NCDC – The City of Port Moresby.
Samoa vs. PNG
Sir John Guise Stadium
Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
Sunday, 5 June, 2016
Referee: Joel HOPKEN (VAN)
Assistant Referee 1: Hilmon SESE (VAN)
Assistant Referee 2: Johnny ERICK (SOL)
Fourth Official: George TIME (SOL)
The players: Despite conceding 11 times in two matches, 19-year-old Samoa goalkeeper Faalavelave Matagi showed glimpses of his potential. The Samoan defence has been under tremendous pressure in both games leaving Matagi with plenty to do. With PNG destined to press forward in their quest to improve their goal difference, the teenage keeper is set for another busy day between the posts.
The vital statistics: Having just 30 per cent of possession in both of their matches, Samoa’s defence has had to deal with a whopping 73 goal attempts, 31 of which were on target. Scott Easthope’s men had just a few opportunities on the counter to register six shots on goal so far in the tournament.
Coach quote: “It’s good for young Matagi, he is starting to build some experience and he’s getting better every day. He’s probably got a little way to go with the decision making but I think that comes with age especially with goalkeepers. But he’s doing some really good things and that’s one of the pleasing things we can take away from this.”
Squad list: 1. Faalavelave MATAGI (GK), 2. John HALL, 3. Kaipo TAGALOA, 4. Filipo BURETA, 6. Ryan MARTIN, 7. Andrew MOBBERLEY, 8. Cameron MARTIN, 9. Paulo SCANLAN, 10. Desmond FAAIUASO, 12. Mike SAOFAIGA, 13. Lionel TAYLOR, 14. Keone KAPISI, 15. Luki GOSCHE, 16. Marcus ALIMONTI, 17. Joseph TYRELL, 18. Henry PUPI, 19. Lapa TONI, 20. Silao MALO, 21. Samualu MALO, 22. Charlie TAPELU (GK), 23. Ted SIKOVI (GK)
Absent: 5. Jarrell SALE, 11. Jai INGHAM,
Coach: Scott EASTHOPE (NZL)
Papua New Guinea
The players: After serving his one match suspension for a red card, striker Tommy Semmy will be a welcome inclusion in the PNG squad. He will be looking to link up with Raymond Gunemba, who was in inspired form against Tahiti to grab a brace.
The vital statistics: Compared to their nervy draw with New Caledonia in their tournament opener, PNG looked far more confident and dangerous against Tahiti. The hosts produced 11 more attempts on goal and four more shots on target in their second match. However coach Flemming Sterritslev will be concerned about his side’s inability to hold onto the lead.
Coach Quote: “There’s only one thing for us to do – to win. We still have a strong chance to finish in the top two and make the semi-finals.”
Squad list: 1. Ishmael POLE, (GK), 2. Daniel JOE, 3. Valentine NELSON, 4. Alwin KOMOLONG, 5. Felix KOMOLONG, 6. Patrick AISA, 7. Raymond GUNEMBA, 8. Michael FOSTER, 9. Nigel DABINGYABA, 10. Obert BIKA, 11. Wira WAMA, 12. David MUTA, 13. Roland BALA, 14. Emmanuel SIMON, 15. Philip STEVEN, 16. Jeremy YASASA, 17. Jacob SABUA, 18. Tommy SEMMY, 19 Koriak UPAIGA, 20. Ronald WARISAN, (GK) 21. Sammie CAMPBELL, 22. Otto KUSUNAN, 23. Leslie KALAI (GK)
Coach: Flemming Serritslev (DEN)
Tahiti vs. New Caledonia
Sir John Guise Stadium
Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
Sunday, 5 June, 2016
Referee: Nick WALDRON (NZL)
Assistant Referee 1: Tevita MAKASINI (TGA)
Assistant Referee 2: Avinesh NARAYAN (FIJ)
Fourth Official: Ravitesh BEHARI (FIJ)
The players: 23-year-old playmaker Teaonui Tehau has been impressive in both of Tahiti’s matches so far. Following a double against Samoa he added a third to his goal scoring tally to earn Tahiti a draw with PNG. Steevy Chong Hue also offers plenty of attacking thrust on the left flank. The French Polynesians could be vulnerable at the back without Nicolas Vallar who will serve a one match suspension after receiving a red card against PNG.
The vital statistic: In their previous two games the defending champions have displayed an attacking brand of football to amass 38 goal attempts and 15 shots on target. However coach Ludovic Graugnard will be concerned about his side’s tendency to give away far too many fouls. The Tahitians have conceded 38 free kicks as well as five yellow cards and one red so far.
Coach Quote: “I think it’s going to be close on the last day. It could come down to goal difference and we would need the other result to go our way if we fail to win.”
Squad list: 1. Mikael ROCHE (GK), 2. Taumihau TIATIA, 4. Ricky AITAMAI, 5. Rainui AROITA, 6. Henri CAROINE, 7. Temarii TINORUA, 8. Tauatua LUCAS,
9. Tauhiti KECK, 10. Teaonui TEHAU, 11. Jay WARREN, 12. Mauarii TEHINA, 13. Steevy CHONG HUE, 14. Matatia PAAMA, 15. HEIMANO BOUREBARE, 16. Bruno TETUANUI (GK), 18. Tefai FAEHAU, 19. Vincent SIMON, 20, Alvin TEHAU, 21. Fred TISSOT
Suspended: 22. Nicolas VALLAR, 17. Tamatoa TETAUIRA
Coach: Ludovic Graugnard (TAH)
The players: Cesar Zeoula, a key member of New Caledonia’s 2012 OFC Nations Cup squad, has been lively and dangerous in both of his side’s games so far. He also showed his mental toughness by stepping up to convert a penalty against Samoa despite a morale sapping miss in his opening match of the tournament. Roy Kayara has backed up his eye-catching performance against PNG by grabbing a brace in his second outing at the Nations Cup.
The vital statistics: Using their technical players who are comfortable on the ball, New Caledonia had no trouble controlling the lion’s share of possession against both PNG and Samoa. Thierry Sardo’s men are quick in transition and dangerous going forward. So far they have produced 64 attempts on goal and from their 21 shots on target eight have found the back of the net.
Coach Quote: “Our first objective was to qualify for the next phase of the World Cup qualifiers. We’ve done that now and so we will focus on trying to progress to the semi- finals.”
Squad list: 1. Dimitri PETEMOU, (GK), 2. Judikael IXOEE, 3. Joseph TCHACKO, 4. Georges BEARUNE, 5. Kevin NEMIA, 6. Cedric SANSOT, 7. Joel WAKANUMUNE, 8. Roy KAYARA, 9. Jean-Philippe SAIKO, 10. Cesar ZEOULA, 11. Bertrand KAI, 12. Loic WAKANUMUNE, 13. Jean-Brice WADRIAKO, 14. Jacki MEINDU, 15. Joerisse CEXOME, 16. Jean-Christ WAJOKA, 17. Georges GOPE-FENEPEJ, 18. Emile BEARUNE, 19.Joseph ATHALE, 20. Thomas SCHMIDT (GK) 21. Jefferson DAHITE, 23. Jelen IXOEE, (GK)
Coach: Thierry SARDO (NCL)
Story courtesy of OFC. For more on OFC Nations Cup 2016 visit www.oceaniafootball.com