Sport: PNG, New Caledonia make winning start to OFC Women's Nations Cup

11:29 am on 19 November 2018

Papua New Guinea and New Caledonia have made winning starts to the OFC Women's Nations Cup.

The PNG Lakatois thrashed Samoa 5-0 in their Group A opener in Kone, with striker Meagen Gunemba bagging a hat-trick.

Yvonne Gabong and Rayleen Bauelua also found the back of the net for the three-time finalists and coach Peter Gunemba said with tougher games to come they got the result they needed.

"As a coach I'm very pleased with the players because we scored five goals but there's so many things we need to correct to be a perfect football team," he said.

"At the same time I was very pleased with (the performance of my daughter) Meagen. I expected her to score goals, but three is enough for her. Then we can look forward to if she can score in the next two games."

PNG striker Meagen Gunemba.

PNG striker Meagen Gunemba. Photo: OFC via Phototek

"Our preparation at home it wasn't good because we just get together for a week and there are so many things we didn't do together as a team," he said.

"We had to travel one week to come here and then play our first game and I think that result was satisfactory for the first one."

Despite being on the wrong end of a lop-sided scoreline, Samoa head coach Nicola Demaine was pleased with the commitment shown from her side.

"I asked them to give 100 per cent and I can't fault them on that. Everyone out there when you see them cramping up they've obviously given 100 per cent," she said.

"It was a good effort, there was just some execution lacking in the tactic - three weeks together they're going to forget to do some things on the field - but the second half they stepped it up. It was a much closer game, much more control so I'm pleased with that progress but obviously disappointed with the overall result."

In the later game, New Caledonia were 3-0 up after 25 minutes before surviving a Tahitian fightback to prevail 4-2 in their first match at this level in 35 years.

Kamene Xowie, Aurélie Lalie and 17 year old Jackie Pahoa all got on the scoresheet for the home side, who are competing in the Nations Cup for the first time since the hosting the inaugural edition in 1983.

New Caledonia's Kamene Xowie celebrates scoring the opening goal.

New Caledonia's Kamene Xowie celebrates scoring the opening goal. Photo: OFC via Phototek

Coach Kamali Fitialeata said he couldn't have asked for much more from his players.

"It's a good start. I'm proud of what they produced on the field tonight, I can't be anything other than proud of them," he said.

"Tahiti, I didn't expect them to run quite so much, and they had some very good individual and collective elements.

"The girls wanted to manage the match which wasn't quite what I instructed them to do. There were a number of opportunities which they (Tahiti) made the most of and that destabilised my team a bit and we gave them two goals. There's still more for us to learn."

Despite a first up defeat, Tahiti coach Stéphanie Spielmann remained positive about the territory's chances in the remaining matches.

"Obviously I'm disappointed because we lost, and I think we could have done better nut, we have just come back to this competition and I think we saw some youthful errors and a lack of experience," she said.

"We shouldn't have conceded the first two goals and I think we just woke up too late plus we had some chances we weren't able to convert but we'll be staying positive, there a still two matches to go and we'll start focusing on the next game against Samoa straight away."

New Zealand chasing fourth straight title

Group B kicks off today in Noumea, with defending champions New Zealand beginning their title defence against Tonga before the Cook Islands go head to head with Fiji.

The Football Ferns have had a turbulent build-up with an independent review released last month finding former coach Andreas Heraf engaged in "bullying behaviour."

New Zealand Football formally apologised to the team last week which veteran striker Sarah Gregorius described as a worthwhile experience and emotional at times.

Katie Bowen and Football Ferns Head Coach Tom Sermanni at a training session ahead of the OFC Women's Nations Cup in New Caledonia.

The Football Ferns are defending OFC Nations Cup champions. Photo: Photosport

Tonga were thumped 16-0 by New Zealand when the same teams kicked off the last Nations Cup in 2014.

Head coach Christian Koaneti said despite facing a formidable foe they're determined to give it their best.

"Yeah it's exciting. Part of it is intimidating since we've been on the downside every time we came across New Zealand but it's a challenge we are willing to take on," he said.

"In time the girls have been exposed to different tournaments - most of the girls in the team just came back from the Youth Olympics but they were involved in futsal so that is something I'm looking forward to utilising."

The top two teams in each group will advance to the semi finals, with the overall winner to represent Oceania at next year's Women's World Cup in France and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.