April 6, 2003
Opening day review of the OFC WWC qualifiers
Australia And PNG Kick Off Champs With Wins
by Jeremy Ruane
Papua New Guinea and host nation Australia kicked off their respective quests to qualify for the 2003 World Cup Finals as Oceania's representatives with comprehensive victories in the opening matches of the OFC qualifying tournament at the Belconnen Soccer Centre in Canberra on April 5.
The Steve Cain-coached Papua New Guinea combination proved too strong for Maurice Tillotson's Cook Islands side, triumphing 5-1, after leading 4-1 at half-time.
Meanwhile, Australia trounced Samoa 19-0 in the later game on opening day, with four players scoring hat-tricks in a match which, at one stage, threatened to succeed North Korea's 24-0 slamming of Singapore - recorded on December 6, 2001 at the thirteenth Asian Women's Championships in Taiwan - as the record scoreline in international women's soccer.
PNG and the Cooks were evenly matched during the first twenty minutes of their encounter, but two goals in as many minutes put Papua in the driving seat, although the first of them was somewhat controversial.
Neilen Limbai's 22nd minute corner wasn't cleared by the Cooks defence, allowing Glenda Matthies to lob the ball back into the goalmouth. Goalkeeper Sharlina Viking caught the dropping sphere, but saw it headed out of her hands and into the net by the incoming Priscilla Konalalai, with referee Tammy Ogston immediately signalling a goal.
While it appeared the strike was from the days of Nat Lofthouse, when goalkeepers were fair game, the goal was later credited to Matthies, the ball being deemed to have crossed the line before Viking caught it, although she was at least two yards off her line when doing so.
With the Cooks reeling from this setback, Papua struck again a minute later. Defensive hesitancy between the retreating Julina Matakino and the advancing Viking was pounced on by Konalalai, who swept the ball home in classic goalpoacher's fashion to make it 2-0 after 23 minutes.
The Cook Islands team was quick to recover their poise, and pulled a goal back on the half-hour mark. Papua's defence went to sleep as Tupou Patia clipped a free-kick to the near post, where Anna Raina flicked it inside for Melanie Rakei to rifle home via the right-hand post.
The Papuans weren't to be denied however, and two goals in three minutes just before half-time put their victory beyond doubt. Both highlighted Viking's lack of confidence, with Limbai and Lydia Banabas, in the 42nd and 45th minutes respectively, scything through the Cooks defence before slipping the ball wide of the static goalkeeper.
The second half was a much more even affair - a tactical change by Tillotson at half-time certainly ensured the Cooks were a far more solid proposition in the second spell - but a fifth goal for Papua came to pass in stoppage time, with Limbai raiding down the right once more before unleashing an unstoppable drive into the roof of the net for her second goal of the game.
The host nation's encounter with Samoa brought along the masses, and they weren't to be disappointed by the Matildas, who romped to a 19-0 rout oftheir outclassed opponents.
Joanne Peters got the ball rolling in just the fourth minute of play,rifling home from thirty yards - a dipping twenty-five yard drive just three minutes later from the same player hit the crossbar. The Matildas were queueing up to score, sensing that a tilt at the world record, and, given the Socceroos hold the world record score in men's soccer, a unique double for Australian soccer was in the offing.
But profligate finishing was their downfall all too often, despite the outstanding service provided by Sacha Wainwright on the left, Peters' midfield generalship, and the lively off-the-ball running by Kelly Golebiowski, who was rewarded for this with Australia's second goal, in the sixteenth minute. Bryony Duus played a free-kick wide to Wainwright in acres of space, and her cross was met by Golebiowski, who flew in to head home amidst the gathered throngs. Three minutes later, the score became 3-0, Duus' corner being thumped home from close range by Rhian Davies, after Samoa failed to clear their lines.
There was a lull in the scoring until the 36th minute, when Peters beat two opponents on a run into the penalty area, on receipt of a pass from Wainwright. Her perfectly placed shot into the bottom left-hand corner of the net left Samoan goalkeeper Tina Feagaiga clutching air.
The Matildas went nap four minutes before the interval, Wainwright playing the ball to Danielle Small, whose tame shot crept under the diving Feagaiga, who could do nothing to stop Golebiowski stroking the ball home from close
range seconds later, as Australia charged downfield straight from the kick-off.
The host nation's representatives six-goal haul at half-time was a mite disappointing, given their dominance, but they more than made amends for it in the first sixteen minutes of the second half, rattling home eight goals in that time.
The first saw Golebiowski completing her hat-trick, as she scampered through the Samoan defence, who stood off her in admiration as Mia Hamm's new team-mate at Washington Freedom boosted the Matildas' lead to 7-0 just seconds into the second spell.
Three minutes later, Peters joined her on the hat-trick-scoring charts, the goal provided by Golebiowski with some assistance from April Mann, who laid the ball back to the Matildas' playmaker from the byline. Mann herself wanted in on the act, and took her chance with aplomb in the 53rd minute, battering the ball inside Feagaiga's near post from fifteen yards. Two minutes later, Peters slid the ball through to Wainwright, who thundered home a richly deserved goal, Australia's tenth. Seconds elapsed before the fifth goal of the half came to pass, Golebiowski's flighted free-kick picking out Thea Slatyer, who ghosted in to head home unchallenged. Straight from the kick-off, Small charged forth,
before deftly chipping the hapless Feagaiga from the edge of the penalty area.
Mann got in on the act once more in the 58th minute, before Golebiowski provided an emphatic finish to yet more good work by the lively Wainwright in the 61st minute, this the goal provider's last act of the match.
The Matildas were a poorer team in her absence, their approach play suddenly lacking the degree of quality which their number three had provided in abundance. Her replacement, Heather Garriock, took time to find her feet, but announced her arrival in the 72nd minute, crashing home a shot which the unlucky Feagaiga could only parry into the roof of her net - 15-0.
This resumed the goal avalance, the Matildas' next strike coming in the 78th minute, Small rounding off her hat-trick with a thumping twenty yard drive, after pouncing on a loose ball and setting off on a run. Within a minute, Golebiowski provided Peters with her fourth goal of the evening, the midfielder stroking home from close range after the pacy
front-runner had unhinged Samoa's defence down their left flank. Five minutes from time, Small rampaged down the left before laying the ball back to Mann. She calmly made it 18-0, then 19-0 two minutes later, in an almost picture-perfect repeat of the eighteenth goal of the game.
The Matildas were denied a 20-0 victory by a curious ruling by Fijian referee Rajendra Singh. Substitute Gillian Foster was unceremoniously dumped in the penalty area by Luisa Tagomoa, who was booked for her troubles. Foster stepped up and cracked home the spot-kick, which promptly became a free-kick to the Samoans, apparently for encroachment by an Australian player when the kick was being taken.
The second day of action sees Australia entertaining the Cook Islands in the early encounter, while the SWANZ, New Zealand's national women's team, make their 2003 tournament debut against Samoa on Monday evening.