Monday, August 27, 2007
The 2010 World Cup officially got underway this weekend in Samoa, where 34 goals were scored on the opening day of the South Pacific Games.
Eight of the 10 teams competing in the Games' football tournament, which serve as the first stage of Oceania's qualifying competition for the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa, made their bow on the first day of a competition which runs through to September 7th. New Caledonia, playing in the World Cup qualifiers for the first time, had the distinction of winning the first match on the long, winding road to South Africa, edging Tahiti 1-0.
The match started just before the meeting between American Samoa and favorites the Solomon Islands. Later, Fiji clobbered Tuvalu 16-0 with a double hat-trick for Osea Vakatalesau while hosts Samoa were beaten 4-0 by Vanuatu.
The Solomon Islands ran in 12 goals against American Samoa, but the vanquished side were delighted with their first-ever World Cup goal. Commins Menapi scored four, claiming the first hat-trick on the road to South Africa 2010, as the Solomon Islanders enjoyed a routine start to their campaign.
Benjamin Totori and Stanley Waita each scored two more in the rout, which saw the Solomon Islanders lead 5-0 at half-time before going on to register a 12-1 win. "We have a team that can win the goal and that is what we are aiming for," said Airon Andrioli, the Brazilian coach of the Solomon Islands, afterwards.
American Samoa's first-ever World Cup qualifying goal came from a second half penalty from Ramin Ott. "I am thrilled with our first ever goal but as a coach to lose so heavily is hard," lamented David Brand, the Englishman in charge of the unfancied outsiders.
American Samoa lost 31-0 in a World Cup record defeat in the 2002 qualifiers to Australia but feel they have made a great deal of improvement, even if their 17-year-old goalkeeper Jordan Penitusi was playing his first-ever game in senior football.
The tournament's other participants, the Cook Islands and Tonga, play their first games late Monday.
And so it begins ...