Kiwis end Kulas Olympic dream

February 17, 2024 7:18 am

[Source: OFC Media via Phototek]

The Digicel Fiji Kulas have failed to qualify for the Paris Olympics after suffering a 7-1 heavy defeat in the second semi-final of the OFC Olympics Qualifier.

New Zealand achieved their largest victory in the tournament.

Their defensive vulnerabilities proved costly for the team this afternoon.

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Fiji started with vigor in the initial minutes, applying pressure on New Zealand’s defense.

However, their early momentum was short-lived when Indiah-Paige Riley breached Fiji’s defense and scored the opening goal in the 6th minute, catching the Fijian defenders off guard.

New Zealand maintained their dominance, with Jacqueline Hand persistently challenging Fiji’s defense.

Her persistence paid off as she found the net in the 24th minute, capitalizing on a well-executed pass from Paige-Riley.

The onslaught continued as Grace Jale, of Fijian heritage, headed their third goal, followed by Hand scoring their fourth in the 50th minute, leaving Fiji’s goalkeeper no chance.

Jale remained influential, delivering a fine assist to Paige-Riley to score their fifth goal in the first half.

New Zealand resumed their attack in the second half, with Paige-Riley attempting to score but being denied by Fiji’s goalkeeper Selai Tikoisuva before sustaining an injury.

The Kiwis continued to impress, with Jale once again heading home their sixth goal, leaving the Fijian defenders helpless.

As expected, she seized another opportunity through a corner kick, completing her hat-trick in the 86th minute.

Cema Nasau scored Fiji’s lone goal thanks to a well taken free-kick by Angeline Rekha in the 3rd minute of added time.

New Zealand will square off against the Solomon Islands in the final at 4pm on Monday.