Vanuatu and Samoa men’s football teams registered their first wins of the Sol2023 Pacific Games on Monday, each notching huge victories at a packed Lawson Tama Stadium.
Vanuatu was the first to seal victory 7-0 over underdogs Tuvalu.
Vanuatu showcased their competence early on with an opening goal from Tony Kalotang after just six minutes, followed moments later by a second from Godine Tenene.
Despite Tuvalu’s defenders putting up a strong resistance, they conceded an own goal shortly before half time to trail 3-0 at the break.
The second half saw Vanuatu extend their lead with three more goals, another each for Kalotang and Tenene plus a score for Joe Moses, sealing a convincing 6-0 win.
Vanuatu coach Emerson Alcantara said they are now eager to face PNG to determine the winner of Group B.
“It’s good to start off with a win and we can now look forward to our important match against PNG,” he told the Pacific Games News Service.
The second match of the afternoon saw Samoa emerge triumphant with a dominant 10-0 victory over neighbours American Samoa.
Leading 4-0 in the first half, Samoa added another six goals in the second.
Samoa coach Ryan Stewart expressed satisfaction with the team’s professional and impressive performance, emphasising their disciplined play and numerous chances created.
“We came off a tough game against Solomon Islands (Samoa lost 1-0 to the hosts), which I thought we did very well on,” Stewart said.
“The big thing today was that we didn’t become complacent and think that all we had to do today was turn up.
“Today I thought the boys were very professional in what they did. We played a 10-0 win, but the way we did it was what I’m proud of. We played good football, moved it well and created a lot of chances,” he said.
Despite the challenging loss, American Samoa remains resilient and optimistic.
Their assistant coach, Frederick Maiava, acknowledged the toughness of the contest but emphasised their commitment to keep fighting.
“This first match was really tough for us against Samoa. Despite what happened today, we move on. We’re here, we fight, and even though we lost today, we will keep fighting,” he said.
Men’s football continues on Tuesday at the SIFF Academy. Cook Islands will face Tonga at 4pm, followed by Fiji v Tahiti at 7pm.
By Carlos Aruafu, Pacific Games News Service
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