Fiji defeated hosts Tahiti in a dramatic penalty shootout 3-2 in one of the semifinals to secure their spot in the final of the OFC U-16 Women’s Championship 2023.
The rain-soaked showdown affair had to be decided on shoot-outs after the competitive affair ended in a 2-all draw.
Fiji took the lead with a penalty from Elesi Tabunase, but Tahiti equalised when Turere Tupahururu’s shot slipped past the Fijian goalkeeper. In the second half, Fiji went ahead again thanks to Seruwaia Laulaba’s free-kick. The game ended 2-2 after substitute Fetia Teikiotiu’s low strike for Tahiti. In stoppage time, Tabunase nearly sealed the win, but her close-range effort hit the post, prompting the shoot-outs.
The first two efforts from both sides were saved, with the subsequent two scored as proceedings ebbed and flowed. It eventually fell to Tahiti’s Maerehia Dehors for Tahiti’s fifth kick and her low effort was saved by Fiji keeper Serafina to send Fiji to the final.
Fiji faces New Zealand in tomorrow’s final, marking their second encounter. In their initial group-stage clash, New Zealand won 4-1.
NZ made the final after a 7-0 win over Tonga in the second semi-final.
Tahiti: 2 (2) (Turere TUPAHURURU 40′, Fetia TEIKIOTIU 83′)
Fiji: 2 (3) (Elesi TABUNASE (P) 34′, Seruwaia LAULABA 56′)
Photo Credit: OFC Media via Christophe Fotozz