Hosts Solomon Islands advanced into the semi-finals as Group A winners after an impressive 5-0 win over Vanuatu in the day’s late encounter.
The match started with some scrappy play from both sides but it was the home team who settled down quickest.
Defender Javin Wae continued his scoring form in front of goal handing Solomon Islands an early lead with a header in the 4th minute.
Playing with eight of their reserves in the starting line-up, the hosts were vulnerable at times in their defending.
Vanuatu had some half chances mid-way through the first half up until debutant Hamilton Pao gave Solomon Islands a 2-0 lead at the break.
Solomon Islands brought Raphael Le’ai on for the second half and he immediately made it 3-0 as he rounded Vanuatu goal keeper Brendon Tankon to score his seventh goal of the tournament after just two minutes on the field.
Captain Charles Mani then added to the tally when he scored a brace in the 53th minute and 64th minute as Solomon Islands capped off another resounding win in the group stage.
Solomon Islands coach Stanley Waita was pleased with his second string side who put on a mature performance against their Melanesian counterparts.
“I think if you saw the first team line up, the first 11, I rested a few of my players and played a few of my bench players because I knew that we were going to win the game”, the former Solomon Islands international said.
“That’s why we field a couple of those players. I was impressed with my player, they went in and did exactly as I told them.”
Waita said the job is not done as the most important match for his team is the semi-final.
“Coming up is the very important game for me, this is what I wanted. I will do as much as I can to prepare for the semi-final, this is a big game for me and the game I really want”, he added.
Vanuatu exit the tournament without a win but coach Joel Rarua still took a moment to congratulate the Solomons before giving credit to his players for their overall effort against a strong Solomon Islands side.
“For us, we tried our best to score but unfortunately it wasn’t on our side,” he said.
“My boys are very young and we tried to compete in this division and it’s quite difficult against this Solomon team, but we respect them. The result is done, congratulations Solomon.”
For Vanuatu it’s back to the drawing board as they will go back home and work on their weaknesses.
“We need to go back and strengthen the youth leagues for the players to play a lot of games.
“We need to have the players play more games to have them prepared for the national team,” Rarua concluded.