Solomon Football > News > Pacific Games New Caledonia 2011 > Bonitos win first test match against Vanuatu

Bonitos win first test match against Vanuatu

The organising committee had barely 2 hours to clean up Lawson Tama and puts things in order for the match after the completion of the Independence Day celebrations. The task was no easy one as the rain dampened spirits but everything was in order for the kickoff at 3:00pm. Fortunately, for the Solomon Islands Football Federation (SIFF), who is looking to use the test matches as a fund raiser for the Pacific Games, seven thousand plus diehard fans braved the weather to witness the match.
Solomon Islands started from the eastern end of Lawson Tama and Vanuatu had their backs against the scoreboard on the western end for the first stanza. The on and off drizzle that started in the morning continued so neither side had to deal with direct sunlight going against them for the whole of the game.
Two minutes into the game the first shot on goal comes from Benjamin Totori of Solomon Islands but it goes wide. Four minutes later Totori was again in the Vanuatu danger area and a last gasp stretch from Selwyn Sese saved Vanuatu from going down early.
It took Vanuatu twelve minutes to register their first opportunity but when it came it looked more promising than the Solomon Islands ones earlier. The cross came from the left with Richard Garae initiating the move and Robert Tasso’s header was on target but the cross bar denied him by millimetres. Robert Yelou later sent a shot wayward from a prime position.
As time went past the quarter-hour mark it was clear that Vanuatu were coming into the game with force and Solomon Islands’ control from the first 10 minutes had slipped away. Vanuatu were able to break down play in the midfield area and get the supply through to their forwards active but the wet conditions were not helping their ground passes find their target.
Solomon Islands regained some control of the game going towards half time with great shots coming from Henry Fa’arodo Jnr. from long distance. Totori almost got the first goal with his cross that curved towards the goal mouth only to meet the cross bar and deflect over for a goal kick. Minutes later a golden opportunity was squandered by Joe Luwi who had only the goalkeeper to beat but he chipped the ball too high and it went out for a goal kick.
An ugly tackle by Luwi just before halftime inside the Vanuatu 18-yard box earned him a yellow card but for George Tabe, the opposing player, it was the end of the game as he was stretched off the field by medical personnel. Extra time in the first half was another goalless affair and the period ended with both teams at 0 goals each.
Solomon Islands got off to a better start in the second half and got 2 quick shots on goal but they could not convert either. Vanuatu replied strongly and the best chance of the game yet went to Tasso who picked up a through pass and went on a one-on-one with Shadrack Ramoni but his shot was push too far to the right and the ball went out for a goal kick.
It took Solomon Islands 63 minutes but finally they got the goal everyone in the stadium was waiting for and the eruption of cheers was proof enough of the relief felt by supporters. Jeffery Bule crossed in from the left and Seni Ngava headed the ball down for Luwi to shoot for goal and the Tafea striker put in enough power to beat the Vanuatu keeper, Ernest Bong, who was going the right way.
Within 3 minutes the lead went to 2 to nothing when Totori paired up with Luwi in a quick succession of passes before sending Bong the wrong way with a powerful low drive to the far post.
Two (2) good replies came from Vanuatu shortly after the double strike from Solomon Islands. Tasso was again free to shoot up in front and Eddison Stephen almost found the back of the net from close range but he sent his shot wide. It was frustrating for the Vanuatu faithful in the stadium but their prayers were answered when Daniel Michel scored in the 89th minute to pull one back for his team.
A couple of nerve-wracking minutes for the Solomon Islands fans went by before local referee, Gerald Oiaka, called an end to the game to confirm the win for the home side.
Solomon Islands head coach, Jacob Moli, was satisfied with the win but says that his players could have finished with a better score line.
“I am pleased with this win but I believe that we missed many opportunities today and the boys did not perform to their full potential especially in the first half,” Moli says adding that the test match has identified some of the issues his team needs to deal with and he is happy with that.
“We have to address the defensive holes that occur in the centre of the field when we are committed in attack. A couple more match will also help the players to communicate better and link up effectively on the field,” Moli says.
Moli was also full of commendation for the Vanuatu side saying that this is a very good side with a very high potential.
“Vanuatu should not be concerned too much about today’s results. I think the rain might have impacted on their game plan a little bit but I think that there is a lot of promise in this side,” Moli says.
Vanuatu head coach, Natonga Saby, says that his management is satisfied with the result considering the experience and depth of the Solomon Islands side.
“The Solomon Islands team is filled with experienced players so I am satisfied that my young players were able to finish with a close score line like today’s,” Saby says.
“Some of our top players like Fennedy Masauvakalo and Francois Sakama are not with the team and this has affected our effectiveness, however, as I said I am satisfied that my players stuck to our game plan throughout the match. We look forward to see how we will improve in our next game on Saturday.”
The second test match will be held on Saturday 9 July. Kickoff time is 3:00pm.

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