PNG advance to finals

Papua New Guinea are into the final of the OFC Women’s Nations Cup 2022 after beating Samoa 3-0 at the HFC Bank Stadium in Suva, Fiji on Wednesday 27 July.

Any hope Samoa had of pulling off a comeback was then extinguished as Captain Meagan Gunemba fired home a powerful strike from 25 yards to book PNG’s place in Saturday’s final against host nation Fiji, who beat Solomon Islands in the second semis match 3-1.

Gunemba’s two second-half goals, either side of Samoa having a penalty saved, secured the win after Charlie Yanding had given PNG a first-half lead.

While Samoa were intent on playing out from the back, PNG were happy to press them in midfield, continuously winning the ball as a consequence.

Paul Ifill’s side did look dangerous once they entered PNG’s defensive third. Torijan Lyne-Lewis twice had attempts from range while Jayda Stewart showed her ability to get beyond the defence, but could only hook her left-foot shot wide.

Eventually, PNG’s first-half pressure did pay off. Rayleen Bauelua, as she did throughout the game, won possession in midfield before unleashing Ramona Padio, whose pass split the Samoa defence to allow Yanding a finish from close-range.

PNG head coach Nicola Demaine was in the opposite dugout when these two nations met at the 2018 edition of the Women’s Nations Cup.

On that occasion, she was on the losing side, as PNG won 5-0. Early in the second period PNG looked to secure their boss a win four years on.

Gunemba, who scored a hat-trick in that 2018 meeting, repeated her trick from the quarter-final, as her corner-kick evaded two Samoa defenders and the goalie before nestling in the back of the net for 2-0.

PNG defender Lucy Maino fouled the pacey Sariah Taeaoalii in the box but PNG stopper Faith Kasiray saved Samoa skipper Monique Fischer’s spot-kick to maintain a two-goal advantage.

Samoa will now face Solomon Islands in the third/fourth playoff, and will take the positives from an impressive tournament performance which belies their current FIFA World Ranking of 109.

Press release