[Source: OFC Media via Phototek]
Fiji got off to the perfect start in their OFC Futsal Nations Cup 2023 campaign with an impressive 9-0 victory over Tonga in Auckland.
In what was a physical and intense encounter, Fiji got off to the perfect start inside the first nine minutes when Ramzan Khan fired an effort from distance past Tonga goalkeeper Semisi Otukolo to give his side the lead.
Tonga almost found a way to level matters minutes after going behind but Hemaloto Polovili’s effort was well held by Fiji ‘keeper Kitione Baleloa.
Two goals in the final eight minutes of the first-half put the Fijians in a strong position that would prove to be insurmountable.
First Merrill Nand showed great skill to turn his man and then firing into the roof of the net, before Bruce Hughes found himself one-on-one with the ‘keeper and slotted away well.
A pair of goals from captain Filipe Baravilala inside the opening minutes of the second-half put his side in cruise control, with Bruce Hughes chipping in with another to make it 6-0.
Rajneel Singh made it seven in the same minute as Hughes’ second before Baravilala completed with hat-trick with two minutes remaining. Merrill Nand grabbed his second and Fiji’s ninth with seconds left on the clock to cap off a perfect start to the tournament for Fiji.
Fiji: 9 (Ramzan KHAN ‘8, Merrill NAND 13′ 40′, Bruce HUGHES 18′, 26′, Filipe BARAVILALA 21′, 23′ 38′, Rajneel SINGH 26’, Tonga: 0)
Tahiti beats Samoa
Tahiti put in an impressive second-half performance to power their way past Samoa and secure all three points in their opening Group B fixture.
A late first-half goal from Michel Maihuri gave the Tahitians a priceless lead after a first twenty minutes in which Samoa had looked the more threatening side.
Samuelu Malo went close for Samoa on two occasions, including a rasping effort that thudded back off the base of the post as his side did everything but score in the first period.
Tahiti came out for the second twenty with a greater sense of purpose and drive and scored two crucial goals in the space of sixty seconds to put themselves in control. Vincent Tinomoe and then Keanu Maihuri both capped off excellent passing moves to kill off ay Samoan hopes of a comeback.
Maihuri added his second and Tahiti’s fourth in the 34 minute and the performance was complete two minutes later when Michel Maihuri grabbed his second with a smart finish through the legs of goalkeeper Osa Savelio.
Tahiti: 5 (Michel MAIHURI 17′ 36′, Vincent TINOMOE 29′, Keanu MAIHURI 30′, 34′)