A late strike by Captain Tetahio Auraa secured Tahiti third place in the OFC Nations Cup playoff for third and fourth against Vanuatu at Ericsson Stadium. Played in gloriously fine conditions as a prelude to the final between New Zealand and Australia, both sides took some time to get into the game with few chances to score.
Not surprisingly the first half proved a dull affair. Players on both sides were showing obvious signs of fatigue after the tough semi-finals on Friday evening. Vanuatu lacked the sharpness and speed that was seen during the group stages while Tahitis conservative tactical approach perhaps gave them the advantage in the second half.
Tahiti broke the deadlock in the 65th minute with Auraa following up a missed attempt by Tony Senechal that Vanuatu goalkeeper David Chilia failed to control.
Sprung into action, Vanuatu mounted a late rally, but Tahiti were not to be denied again after having a place in the final snatched from them in the last two minutes of their semi-final thriller with Australia last Friday evening.
Afterwards, Vanuatu coach Carlos Buzzetti said he was disappointed to lose a game he felt his team had dominated. He believed his team had been the more attacking team but conceded his players had nothing left in the tank.
This he blamed on the tight schedule, citing the adverse weather conditions and other mitigating factors has the reasons for his teams downfall. What he did not do is place the blame on his players. He felt they had played their hearts out throughout the tournament and praised them for it.
Tahitian coach Patrick Jacquetmet also believed Vanuatu had been the dominant side but said his team won because of the tactics they used throughout the tournament which may have been slightly on the defensive side but had worked well for them.
Jacquetment says the third place effort was satisfactory considering the lack of time the team had in preparations before the tournament which was the result of their domestic club season finishing later than expected. Buzzetti was also satisfied with his teams placing although he conceded they could have finished higher had they scored more goals which were the sore point during their campaign. Vanuatu only scored two goals the whole tournament and lacked the ability to finish even though they were highly competitive every else on the field.
65 min - # 6 Tetahio Auraa
45 min - # 10 Etienne Mermer for # 13 Sandy Alex Alick
57 min - # 14 Richard Iwai for # 18 Jean Robert Yelou
67 min - # 15 Pita David Maki for # 7 Fedy Vava
45 min - # 18 Raimoana Bennett for # 7 Samuel Garcia
80 min - # 15 Larry Marmaouyet for # 10 Tony Senechal
85 min - # 12 Harry Tong Sang for # 3 Iotua Kautai
35 min - # 10 Tony Senechal (Tahiti)
86 min - # 6 Willie August Marango (Vanuatu)
89 min - # 5 Lexa Bule Bibi (Vanuatu)
Vanuatu: 1. David Chilia 4. Wilkins Simon Lauru 5. Lexa Bule Bibi 6. Willie August Marango 7. Fedy Vava 9. Seimata Chilia 12. Graham Demas 13. Sandy Alex Alick 16. Daniel Koko Alick 17. Alphonse Welin Qorig 18. Jean Robert Yelou
BENCH: 2. Ken Masauvakalo 3. Manley Junior Tabe 8. Alia Silas 10. Etienne Meremer 11. Maki Gerard Haitong 14. Richard Iwai 15. Pita David Maki 19. Philip Tomake 20. Presley John Garae
Coach: C. Buzzetti
Tahiti: 2. Steeve Fatupua-Lecaill 3. Iotua Kautai 4. Vehia Maurirere 5. Sylvain Booene 6. Tetahio Auraa 7. Samuel Garcia 8. Teva Zaveroni 9. Felix Tagawa 10. Tony Senechal 13. Abel Tevevarua 20. Xavier Samin
BENCH: 11. Naea Bennett 12. Harry Tong Sang 14. Geiamano Guyon 15. Larry Marmaouyet 16. Daniel Tapeta 17. Angelo Tchen 18. Raimoana Bennett 19. Gabriel Wajoka
Coach: P. Jacquemet
Referee: Leone Rakaroi (Fiji)
Assistant Referee 1: Dhirendra Kewal (Fiji)
Assistant Referee 2: Tevita Vea (Tonga)
Fourth Official: Joakim Sosongan (Papua New Guinea)