Oceania heavyweights Tahiti and Solomon Islands will face off in the OFC Beach Soccer Nations Cup title decider at Papeete’s Parc Aorai Tini Hau on Saturday afternoon local time.
The meeting between Tiki Toa and Bilikiki is a fitting conclusion to a week of entertaining, combative and quality Pacific football in the sand.
Not only these two great Oceania rivals stood above the rest throughout the group phase but they’ve also produced by far the best match of the tournament when they were pitted against each other.
Despite a final third goal-rush that gave the hosts a seemingly convincing 11-6 victory, it would be foolish to read too much into the final scoreline.
For the majority of the match very little separated these two sides as they went toe-to-toe, trading blows while also trying to keep some in the tank for their far more important re-match on Saturday.
The stakes couldn’t be higher. With the Oceania crown comes OFC’s sole place at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup later in the year in Paraguay.
For two-time World Cup runners-up Tahiti a ticket to South America would offer another chance to capture that elusive world title after coming so close in Portugal in 2015 and in the Bahamas two years later .
Meanwhile for Bilikiki a win would represent a long awaited return to the global beach soccer stage after eight years in the wilderness.
With anticipation building all throughout the week a big crowd is expected at Parc Aorai Tini Hau, and the lucky ones to witness the showdown will be treated to two vastly different style of plays.
Tahiti will rely on their technical and aerial ability to dominate possession while Bilikiki are likely to opt for a more direct and counterattacking approach on the sand.
If the opening two periods of their last meeting, just a couple of days ago, are anything to go by, we are all in for a real treat.
OFC Beach Soccer Nations Cup Final – Tahiti vs Solomon Islands
TAHITI vs SOLOMON ISLAND
Saturday, 22 June
Parc Aorai Tini Hau, Papeete, Tahiti
LIVE STREAM: http://bit.ly/2Xri4Jc
Team List: 1. Jonathan TOROHIA (GK), 2. Angelo TCHEN, 3. Ariihau TERIITAU, 4. Heimanu TAIARUI, 5. Gervais CHAN KAT, 6. Patrick TEPA, 7. Raimana LI FUNG KUEE, 8. Heiarii TAVANAE, 9. Heirauarii SALEM, 10. Tearii LABASTE, 11. Teaonui TEHAU, 12. Franck REVEL (GK)
Head Coach: Naea BENNETT (TAH)
Key Players: Former FIFA World Cup Golden Ball winner Heimanu Taiarui is both brilliant at the back giving his side a defensive balance as well creating and scoring spectacular goals. He is complemented by Tearii Labaste and Patrick Tepa who have already combined for 20 goals.
Team List: 1. Abraham BIRD (GK), 2. Allen FAROBO, 3. Roy MAFANE, 4. Thompson PETER, 5. Nelson SAMANI, 6. Nicholas MURI, 7. Max FA’ARI, 8. Anthony TALO, 9. Kiven KOIPALA, 10. James NAKA, 11. Mcphilip AISA, 12 Fred HALE (GK)
Head Coach: Gideon OMOKIRIO (SOL)
Key Players: Roy Mafane has led Bikiki’s defensive line as well as scoring in every game. Experienced duo of Nicholas Muri and James Naka may not have been at their devastating best, but tomorrow’s big stage could provide the platform for them to shine.