SI defeat PNG 2-1 to top Pool B

The Solomon Islands have progressed on to the Stage 3 final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Qualifier-OFC after beating the PNG Kapuls 2-1 tonight at the PNG Football Stadium.

The Kapuls were penalized in the first minute of play after a foul from captain Michael Foster on Micah Lea’alafa.

This gave the visitors the momentum in the opening minutes as they launched several raids.

But the Kapuls were able to withstand this and eventually found their way into their opponents’ half.

Left one on one with the keeper, Kapuls striker Nigel Dabinyaba nearly put the home side in front but Phillip Mango denied him twice at close range.

The Kapuls continued to test Mango and finally beat him in the 18th minute when poor communication between Mango and his defenders allowed Raymond Gunemba to poke in a loose ball into the nets.

The 31st minute saw a turning point in the match when Kapuls keeper Ronald Warisan rushed out of his line, leaving the goal open.

Felix Komolong rushed in to defend the goal and was red carded by referee Jumpei Iida for a handball that denied Solomon Islands a goal scoring opportunity.

Solomon Islands equalised after captain Henry Fa'arodo Jr slotted the ball past Warisan.

Frustration got the better of the Kapuls and this cost them another goal when Jerry Donga fired one past Warisan in additional time to make it 2-1.

Down to 10-man and now needing to score six goals to top Pool B on points for and against; the task proved too much in the end for the Kapuls with a scoreless second half from both teams.

Tempers flared at times after Gunemba and Foster were cautioned with yellow cards.

With a vocal home crowd, the Kapuls fought on valiantly.

Several opportunities presented themselves for both sides to score but to no avail.

For the Solomon Islands, time was on their side as the clock wound down to the full time whistle.

Solomon Islands now will meet Group A winners New Zealand in a home-and-away series.

Troy Taule