6 Jun 2016

Sport: Semi finalists decided at OFC Nations Cup

11:54 am on 6 June 2016

The semi finalists have been decided at the Oceania Nations Cup football tournament in dramatic fashion, with Papua New Guinea and New Zealand topping the groups and a late goal ending Tahiti's title defence.

Hosts PNG went into their final group match against Samoa needing to win by at least five goals to guarantee a spot in the knockout stage.

Head coach Flemming Serritslev admitted he didn't think they would get there when they went into the halftime break only 2-0 in front before the floodgates finally opened in the second spell as Raymond Gunemba completed his hat-trick in an 8-0 win.

Raymond Gunemba celebrates one of his three goals against Samoa.

Raymond Gunemba celebrates one of his three goals against Samoa. Photo: OFC via Phototek

"I was absolutely not satisfied with the way we played (in the first half) but in the second half we found to our game, played a much faster game to the goal-line and had a lot of cut-backs so it looked good in the second half," he said.

"The team has made football history here in PNG by being the first team ever from PNG reaching the semi finals so I'm very satisfied with this and I'm satisfied with the general performance of our team."

Papua New Guinea coach Flemming Serritslev.

Papua New Guinea coach Flemming Serritslev. Photo: OFC via Phototek

Samoa conceded 19 goals without reply in their three games.

Coach Scott Easthope said it was a disappointing end to the tournament but he couldn't fault the effort from his players.

"They definitely gave everything that they could right until the end physically, and they just ran out of gas against a side that's far superior - and that showed later on."

In the final match of the group stage, defending champions Tahiti clashed with New Caledonia in a rematch of the 2012 Nations Cup final.

Bertrand Kai broke the scoring deadlock in the 80th minute to all but assure Les Cagous of a playoff spot.

New Caledonia celebrate Bertrand Kai's (11) goal against Tahiti.

New Caledonia celebrate Bertrand Kai's (11) goal against Tahiti. Photo: OFC via Phototek

Teaonui Tehau equalised in the second minute of stoppage time to ensure a dramatic finish.

A late shout for a penalty could have seen Tahiti pull ahead but the claims were denied by referee Nick Waldron and the defending champs were eliminated on goal difference.

Tahiti coach Ludovic Graugnard said his team paid the price for not scoring enough goals in their first match against Samoa.

"Tonight's match was incredibly open, it could have been one or the other and both sides had a lot of real chances that went amiss. We're disappointed because we wanted to end this competition without a loss, and I really don't think we deserved to exit the tournament tonight."

Tahiti coach Ludovic Graugnard.

Tahiti coach Ludovic Graugnard. Photo: OFC via Phototek

New Caledonia's Thierry Sardo was elated his side is progressing to the semi-finals.

"The objective was to make it through the group stage and we've done that. What isn't so great is the fact we missed a lot of chances and haven't been able to finish at the top of the group. But the main objective has been achieved and that's what counts."

B winners New Zealand will face New Caledonia in the first semi final on Wednesday afternoon before the hosts Papua New Guinea take on Solomon Islands.