Vanuatu Futsal suffers huge loss in Nation’s Cup Opener

Vanuatu’s Nicola Makito finds some space against New Caledonia during the 2019 OFC Futsal Nations Cup at the Arene Du Sud, Noumea, New Caledonia on October 28, 2019. Photo: Shane Wenzlick

Vanuatu Futsal team lost their opening game of the OFC Futsal Nation’s cup to host New Caledonia 11-1 on Monday night.

Vanuatu playmaker Ronaldo Wilkins dictated the tempo of the match during the opening minutes and Richard Lehi’s men did find an opening inside following a decisive pass by Rhydley Napau to Sandy Mesau who didn’t make a mistake.

The hosts responded quickly through a brilliant individual goal by Christ Pei before Timothee Delaunay gave Les Cagous the lead to the delight of the home crowd inside Arena du Sud.

Juliano Schmeling’s charges gave themselves some breathing space thanks to James Namuli and an Aser Xuma header.

It got even better for New Caledonia when skipper Cedrick Humuni set up Xuma for his second of the match.

Searching for a way back into the game Richard Lehi employed a powerplay, using the Vanuatu keeper as a fifth outfield player, but his gamble backfired as Pei drove into the unguarded net on the counter to help his side to a 6-1 half-time lead.

Eric Saihuliwa opened the scoring for the rampant Les Cagous after the restart, followed by a neat finish from Namuli for the hosts’ eights goal of the match.

With just 6 seconds left on the clock, Saihuliwa sealed the emphatic win for Schmeling’s men.

“I’m definitely happy with the score but we still need to fix some details for tomorrow, but yeah I’m happy because today was a key game for us, our first game at home against Vanuatu which is always strong,” the New Caledonia coach said.

Meanwhile his Vanuatu counterpart admitted his side was outplayed by the hosts.

“Our game plan didn’t work out, New Caledonia was really strong,” Richard Lehi said

“I think we need to improve our defensive weaknesses but New Caledonia scored more goals.

“We were trying to use the power but unfortunately we couldn’t score from it and we made too many mistakes which New Caledonia took advantage of,” the Vanuatu coach explained.

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