Solomon Islands got off to a magical start in front of the packed banks of Lawson Tama Stadium in Honiara as veteran Benjamin Totori combined with Auckland City FC attacker and futsal wunderkind Micah Lea’alafa to punish a PNG defensive error just 30 seconds after kick-off.
However this time around a one-goal lead wasn’t enough to give Solomon Islands room to breathe as a fired up Papua New Guinea dominated the first half with high pressing seeing them winning a huge amount of possession.
The equaliser came in the 29th minute when a poorly struck back pass from Freddie Kini wasn’t cleared by goalkeeper Phillip Mango allowing speedster Raymond Gunemba to add another international goal to his tally.
The second half saw the game even out as the hosts threatened to regain control of the game, however an error from Bata Furai saw the visitors awarded a penalty which Michael Foster tucked away neatly.
Papua New Guinea coach Flemming Serritslev says it was a much improved performance from his side against a strong Solomon Islands team.
“Firstly, I want to thank Solomon Islands and my counterpart Moses Toata for giving us a fair test again today,” Serritslev says.
“I also want to thank my team for the result, we came out with a game plan which enabled us to control game in the first half and score against the Solomon Islands.
“The second half we lost our focus and the Solomon Islands threatened us, however overall we played better and are very happy with the result.”
For Moses Toata it was disappointing his side couldn’t maintain the tempo they set in the opening friendly, but it gave him plenty to consider.
“Our opponents deserved the result today – they worked hard and displayed the desire and determination to win,” Toata says.
“They had a good game plan and caused issues for us in defence. The second half was better for us but we missed our chances to take the game when we should have.
“I want to thank Papua New Guinea for these two test matches. They are very important for us to continue building our teams and improving.”