Another top class performance from New Caledonia captain Bertrand Kai saw his side claim a 1-0 win, their second straight victory over Melanesian neighbours Solomon Islands in Honiara at the weekend.
Solomon Islands were better organised and prepared to deal with the New Caledonians following their 3-0 loss in the first match.
However, a momentary lapse in concentration at the back allowed Kai to score with a classic finish, controlling the ball with his chest before slotting the ball past, Izomo Bird who stood in for Phillip Mango.
Henry Fa’arodo’s presence in the midfield made a huge difference as his experience against the New Caledonians was called into play.
The veteran midfielder missed the first match following the passing of a family member but was determined to make an impact for Solomon Islands in this match.
Scoring, however, continues to elude Solomon Islands who agonizingly witnessed several chances in the first half go to waste. The second half saw the Solomon’s best chance of the game after a decent shot just inside the box but it swung away from the far post and Mathias Iani could not connect with it.
For the Caledonians, the second half was much better as they heaped pressure on the Solomon Islands deep in their own half clearly in search of more goals. Several free kicks and corner-kicks went their way but, somehow, they were not able to break past the defensive line.
Thiery Sardo was pleased with his team’s win and also with concluding the series with a win over the Solomon Islands.
“We managed to control the game in the first half and despite Solomon Islands coming deep into our half we did not allow them to score. There were at least five changes in our match including our goalkeeper so I am very happy with how we played,” Sardo said/
His counterpart Moses Toata was pleased with result but acknowledges that more needs to be done.
“We left the field feeling better about how we played – there was a marked improvement with how the players responded to the last result. The return of (Henry) Fa’arodo was important for the players but I also think that other players stepped up in this match,” Toata said.
“We thank New Caledonia for giving us this two very good test matches because they are vital in the lead up to the match against Tahiti next month. From this match, we can build on our strengths and address our weaknesses.”
Solomon Islands will open their campaign in the third-stage of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers againt Tahiti in Pape’ete, Tahiti on 7 November. The return match will be a week later on 13 November in Honiara.