PAC SPORTS—Football | Vanuatu celebrates victory over Solomon Islands in Port Vila

Vanuatu players are celebrating their goal, as captured in a photo. Source: OFC Media.

Vanuatu secured their first win over Solomons Islands since 2017 in the opening match for the OFC Nations Cup, beating them 1-0. The match was dubbed a ‘Grand Final’ after New Caledonia’s withdrawal, and both coaches dubbed it a ‘Grand Final.’ With New Zealand as the third team in Group A, defeat in the opening match could ruin their respective semi-final dreams.

Port Vila in Vanuatu was abuzz with anticipation for the OFC Men’s Nations Cup, with a staggering 6,499 fans securing their tickets. The home team, Vanuatu, kicked off the tournament with a powerful performance, while the Solomon Islands found it challenging to create clear-cut opportunities against a robust Vanuatu defense spearheaded by the Australian A-League champion, Brian Kaltak.

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Vanuatu came agonizingly close to scoring before the half-time whistle, with Bong Kalo missing an open goal and Godine Tenene’s volley sailing over the crossbar. Coach Juliano Schmeling’s halftime pep talk significantly impacted the team, creating several glorious opportunities. However, Solomons captain Joses Nawo’s attempt was thwarted by a spectacular finger-tip save from Dgen Leo.

Vanuatu’s goal came from super-sub Kensi Tangis, who scored his biggest career goal just four minutes after coming on. Solomon Islands continued to push for an equalizer, but substitute John Orobulu’s effort was straight at Leo.

With the victory, Vanuatu now has one foot in the semi-final, while the Solomon Islands need a historic victory against New Zealand to keep their hopes of progression alive.

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