Oceania: Tahiti win maiden OFC Nations Cup title
Tahiti are the champions of the OFC Nations Cup for the very first time following an exciting final against New Caledonia. Tahiti, whose previous tournament best had been three second placings in 1973, 1980 and 1996, finally scribed their name on the trophy following Sunday’s 1-0 triumph and claimed a place in next year’s FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil.
New Caledonia, beaten finalists in the previous tournament in 2008, had caused a huge upset on Friday when disposing of the defending champions New Zealand 2-0 in the semi-finals whilst Tahiti reached the final on the back of a tense 1-0 win over hosts Solomon Islands. The final on Sunday was preceded by the third/fourth play-off match between the two losing semi-finalists with New Zealand clawing back some pride in an exciting 4-3 win over the Solomon Islands. The final, however, didn’t see as many goals but no shortage of tension as Tahiti, thanks to the exotically named Steevy Chong Hue, scored the only goal of the game in the 11th minute of the game. Try as they might, New Caledonia were unable to equalize and Tahiti were able to see out the game and claim a maiden title.
The tiny Pacific island, part of French Polynesia, will be hugely rewarded for their success in the OFC Nations Cup by taking part in the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup which could see them pitted against the likes of world champions Spain and tournament hosts Brazil. Tahiti, as well as the other three nations who made the OFC Nations Cup semi-finals, also have the third round of FIFA World Cup qualification to look forward to which begins in September this year.