Fiji’s U19 centerback, Angeline Rekha, received her second consecutive Player of the Match award as the national team secured a spot in the quarterfinals against New Caledonia.
Despite carrying a niggling hamstring injury, Rekha was impressive, disrupting Papua New Guinea’s attacking play and deflecting their numerous goal attempts in their second and final Group B OFC U19 Women’s Championship match at the HFC Stadium in Suva yesterday.
She dedicated her award to her father, who surprised her by attending the match.
“I am surprised because I wasn’t up to my performance today as I still have not recovered from my last game, but I am proud to have received this award,” Rekha said. “I dedicate it to my dad I was surprised he came to watch. Last time when I was expecting him to come, he was busy with work.”
Rekha also received the same recognition in the Digicel Young Kula’s previous game, a 3-0 loss to New Zealand.
Ahead of the quarterfinals, Rekha was pleased with their defensive performance against Papua New Guinea and hoped they would maintain that level.
In their match against Papua New Guinea, Fiji had to work hard for a 2-0 victory, with goals from Kasanita Tabua in the 40th minute and Evivi Buka in injury time.
Although Papua New Guinea showed improvement compared to their heavy 11-0 defeat against New Zealand in their previous encounter, they won’t progress to the quarterfinals due to goal difference.
Nevertheless, their coach, Susan Watpore, was pleased with her team’s performance and believes that with more training, they could challenge other countries in future tournaments.
Winning coach Angie Chua said her side “ticked the boxes” in the win and displayed great fighting spirit.
“The first was a clean sheet and the second is to qualify as the underdogs because we were the lowest ranked in the group.”
Looking ahead to the match against New Caledonia, Chua’s focus is on ensuring the players get sufficient rest, recover well, and improve their finishing after missing several goal-scoring opportunities against Papua New Guinea.