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Action aplenty on opening Pacific Games day

The football tournaments of the XIV Pacific Games kick off in Nouméa, New Caledonia, tomorrow with a jam-packed day of action. Two women’s matches and five men’s matches will take place across three venues and all 14 sides will be looking to get a head start on their rivals by opening their campaigns with a win.

The Tuvalu and American Samoa men’s teams will have the honour of raising the curtain on the event when they take part in the first match at Riviere Salée from 9am local time. That match will be followed at the same venue by a meeting between Solomon Islands and Guam before hosts New Caledonia face Vanuatu in one of the day’s highlights.

Other matches in the men’s competition will also be in full flight at the nearby Stade Boewa in Boulari, where Papua New Guinea will take on Cook Islands before Fiji clash with Tahiti in another of the day’s heavyweight battles.

Plenty of interest will also be centred on the Stade PLGC, where the women’s competition will get underway with a Papua New Guinea-Tahiti match-up in the morning and an afternoon meeting between Solomon Islands and New Caledonia.

Both women’s games will be intriguing affairs as defending champions Papua New Guinea look to assert their dominance early on and hosts New Caledonia try to impress the locals and make good use of home advantage. But both sides’ respective opponents also harbour genuine hopes of progressing past the group stages and have plenty to prove.

The Solomon Islands will want to make clear their semi-final showing at the 2010 OFC Women’s Nations Cup last September was no fluke while Tahiti performed disappointingly at that tournament and will be aiming to restore their credibility on the international stage.

In the men’s tournament, the aforementioned New Caledonia-Vanuatu and Fiji-Tahiti clashes are the obvious highlights but plenty of interesting sub-plots will go on elsewhere. Tuvalu and American Samoa have both been drawn in a strong-looking Group A and will know tomorrow’s meeting with each other could well offer their best opportunity of earning a win, while Solomon Islands are one of the contenders for the title and will be wary of facing Guam, an unknown quantity due to their status as a non-OFC member.

Papua New Guinea are likely to have too much class for Cook Islands in the other match but the most intriguing feature of that pairing is the head-to-head coaching battle of two former international players. Papua New Guinea boss Frank Farina is an ex-player and coach of Australia and his experience will be invaluable to the cause while former All White Maurice Tillotson is at the helm of the Cook Islands’ campaign.

All players involved on the opening day will get the chance to recover from tomorrow’s exertions as Sunday has been set aside as a rest day but many will be back in action soon after when the women’s tournament continues on Monday and the men get going again on Tuesday.

XIV Pacific Games New Caledonia 2011

Day One Fixtures 27/08/2011

Men’s tournament

Tuvalu vs American Samoa
Riviere Salée, Nouméa
Kick-off: 9am local time

Papua New Guinea vs Cook Islands
Stade Boewa, Boulari
Kick-off: 10am local time

Solomon Islands vs Guam
Riviere Salée, Nouméa
Kick-off: Noon local time

New Caledonia vs Vanuatu
Riviere Salée, Nouméa
Kick-off: 3pm local time

Fiji vs Tahiti
Stade Boewa, Boulari
Kick-off: 3pm local time

Women’s tournament

Papua New Guinea vs Tahiti
Stade PLGC, Nouméa
Kick-off: 10am local time

Solomon Islands vs New Caledonia
Stade PLGC, Nouméa
Kick-off: 3pm local time

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