Solomon Islands spoil hosts Samoa's party in first semi-final

February 16, 2024 12:01 pm

[Source: OFC Media via Phototek]

The Solomon Islands will play for a place at the 2024 Paris Olympics after beating Samoa 2-0 in a tight first semi-final at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament – Oceania Qualifier in Apia.

Second-half goals from substitute Sandy Aniholland and captain Ileen Pegi from the penalty sport did the damage for Batram Suri’s side, who will meet either Fiji or New Zealand in Monday’s final.

Samoa will feel slightly aggrieved, they had the ball in the back of the net early in the second half only to see it was ruled out for a foul on the goalkeeper.

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The Solomon Islands had the better of the early exchanges. 16 minutes in, captain Ileen Pegi threatened down the left-hand touchline and her cross found the head of Lorina Solosaia, who couldn’t direct her header at goal.

The best chance of the opening period fell to the Solomon Islands and it was again Pegi at the heart of the move. A pinpoint cross found the path of Almah Gogoni in the 27th minute, but her shot was fired straight at 16-year-old goalkeeper Xeyana Salanoa, who made a quality save to tip the ball over the bar.

Samoa came back into the match in the latter stages of the first half and created a couple of chances for Leah Manuleleua. They continued to pile on the pressure late on, with Torijan Lyne-Lewis having a shot blocked, and after some silky footwork, Sasjah Vikolia Dade forced Kofela into a diving save at her near post.

Solosaia had a superb effort from distance right on the cusp of half-time for the Solomon Islands, which was tipped over the bar well by Salanoa.

Samoa thought they had taken the lead on the hour mark when the ball from an inswinging corner went through the hands of Solomon Islands goalkeeper Margaret Kofela and into the net but referee Mederic Lacour adjudged a foul on the keeper from Arianna Skeers and the scores remained level.

A couple of minutes later confusion in the Samoa defence let in substitute Sandy Aniholland who scrambled the ball home for her first goal of the tournament, giving Batram Suri’s side a crucial lead.

Monique Fischer hit the post from a free kick in the 70th minute, and that was as close as Samoa game to an equalisier as the minutes ticked down.

Solomon Islands sealed the result with a little over ten minutes remaining, when Samoan defender Alisa Tuatagaloa brought down a rampaging Pegi in the box, and the captain rifled the penalty home to double the lead 12 minutes from full-time, securing her nation’s place in the final.