Fiji and Tahiti qualify for soccer semifinals after draw

PORT MORESBY, July 7 – Fiji and nine-man Tahiti were both left satisfied as their men’s soccer game finished in a 0-0 draw at Bisini Grounds on Tuesday, ensuring both team qualified for the semifinals.

Tahiti were reduced to nine players in the second half after captain Manuarii Hauata and Thibaut Pito received two bookings and were sent off.

Tahiti head coach Patrice Flaccadori was pleased with his team’s spirit in holding out for the draw.

“It was a very tough game against a good team. I think the score is fair, but I am angry because we received two red cards and I found the referee’s decisions very hard,” said Flaccadori.

“It was difficult because Fiji were very organised. I’m very proud of them but I’m a little angry with the captain (Hauata) because he didn’t respect the game. But it’s a good experience for us.”

Fiji manager Juan Carlos (URU) was also pleased with the draw after Tahiti had the better of the first half, before the red cards.

“It was important not to lose the game today. We knew that if we didn’t score in the first half we would have had a very difficult time to score against the wind in the second half. But we have achieved our targets,” Carlos said.

“I was more relaxed after the two red cards. With nine men their only option was to pump the ball to the big fellow up front and we had three people marking him.”

The draw means Vanuatu are eliminated from the Pacific Games soccer tournament, although they remain in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games qualifying tournament where they face a tough semifinal match against New Zealand.

Fiji have qualified for two semifinals: one against PNG in the Olympic tournament and another against New Zealand in the Pacific Games competition.

“New Zealand is a tough game and it will also be difficult against PNG because they have a good squad and they are at home. The crowd will be behind them, but my players don’t care about that. It will be a great atmosphere,” Carlos said.

By Asa Willie, Games News Service

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