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Football & Soccer

Tonga eliminated from OFC semi-final contention

Auckland, New Zealand

Tonga v Vanuatu. Auckland, New Zealand. 31 August 2023. Photo: OFC Media via Phototek.

Vanuatu have kept their hopes live of qualifying for the semi-finals at the Oceania Football Confederation Men’s Olympic Qualifier after a 3-0 win over Tonga at The Trusts Arena in Auckland.

Both sides had come off 3-0 defeats by Samoa and the Solomon Islands respectively and the result means Tonga are effectively eliminated from semi-final contention while Vanuatu will need a result against Samoa in their final group game to have a chance of progressing.

OFC reported that Vanuatu got off to a brilliant start as Nicolas King headed them in front from a 5th minute corner. “Tonga struggled to get a foothold into the game against Vanuatu. George Chichirua doubled the lead on 24 minutes when he danced past several would-be tacklers into the area and fired a left footed shot past a despairing Nimilote Moala and made a goal.”

In the 66th minute Tonga were reduced to 10 men when defender Kulisitofa Kite received a second yellow card after a cynical trip.

"It went from bad to worse for the Tongans when Giniho Tabe fired into the left-hand corner of the net with a stinging right foot shot in the 69th minute to effectively secure the three points for Vanuatu. A second headed goal from King with 8 minutes remaining put the gloss on a solid victory."

Vanuatu will face Samoa and Tonga will meet the Solomon Islands in the final round of Group B fixtures on Sunday.