EYES will be on the underdogs Avatiu who made history after beating Tupapa Maraerenga in the knockout semi-final of the premier men’s division on Friday at the CIFA Complex.
The minnows stunned second-ranked Tupapa 3-2 after taking a 2-0 lead early in the opening half.
Avatiu’s Rechimaer Rairoa opened the floodgates when a drive down the right wing saw him forced an own goal by a Tupapa player in the 13th minute.
Atu Putere extended Avatiu’s lead to 2-0 with another brilliant effort in the 20th minute.
Sensing defeat, Tupapa minus their skipper Mii Joseph tried to come back in the match. But the side suffered guidance and structure in the backline, leaving holes in their defense line. Tupapa relied heavily on the experience of their few key players making it difficult for the former players.
In a tit-for-tat battle, Tupapa was finally rewarded for their efforts in the 40th minute when nifty midfielder Geoffrey Strickland connected a stunning bicycle kick to cushion the deficit to 1-2 before heading into the break.
Avatiu extended their lead to 3-1 early into the second half when Rairoa blasted the ball over Tupapa’s keeper.
Celebrations were short lived though, as Tupapa came back three minutes later with their second goal off Peni Kitiona who sped after a through ball from Strickland to nip home their second goal.
Avatiu’s goalkeeper made some timely saves to keep the Tupapa attackers at the bay as the side held on to win the match 3-2.
The side will now meet Puaikura which defeated Takuvaine in the other semi-final, in the knockout final this weekend.
On Saturday, Puaikura just managed to edge out archrivals Takuvaine 2-1 at Takitumu School ground.
It was Reds who held possession for the majority of the first half and scored thirty minutes into the game through Luki Gosche.
The side was unable to capitalise on the penalty advantage which came off the crossbar.
The one-up lead continued throughout the first spell, as Puaikura struggled to penetrate through the Afato Ioane led defence.
In the second half, Puaikura came stronger to score two goals through Paavo Mustonen and Pekay Edwards.
Takuvaine were forced to make reinforcements after Gosche went down due to injury, making it difficult for them upfront.
Puaikura will meet with Avatiu this weekend for what will be an interesting match-up considering their hard-fought battle in the knock-out competition.
In the under 8 mixed division, it was Takuvaine and Titikaveka who registered close wins to make it through to the next stage.
Following in their footsteps are Tupapa Maraerenga and Puaikura U11 mixed teams who performed exceedingly well to push through to the finals. In the U14 boys competition, Tupapa Maraerenga head to the showdown after their comfortable 3-0 win over Puaikura, joined by Nikao Sokattak who won on penalties against round cup winners Titikaveka on Saturday.
In the U14 girls division, Avatiu eased their way into the final with a 5-0 win over Puaikura.
The side will take on Round Cup winners Tupapa Maraerenga who defeated Titikaveka 2-0.
In the U17 Boys competition, Nikao Sokattak put on another flawless performance to beat Matavera 5-1, while Titikaveka defeated Avatiu in a penalty shootout.
In the senior women’s competition, both Tupapa Maraerenga and Nikao Sokattak overcame their opponents in semi-final matches with close wins.
Round Cup winners Tupapa won on penalties against Puaikura after a tough tussle saw both sides register 2-2 score.
Meanwhile, on Thursday Nikao Sokattak brought their A game to the pitch to outperform Titikaveka with a 3-0 win.
– CIFA Media
Results: U8 Mixed – Takuvaine FC-Tupapa Maraerenga FC 6-5 (Penalty Shootout), Titikaveka FC-Avatiu FC 1-0; U11 Mixed – Tupapa Maraerenga FC-Matavera FC 3-0, Puaikura FC-Titikaveka 3-2 (Penalty Shootout); U14 Girls – Avatiu-Puaikura FC 5-0, Tupapa Maraerenga FC-Titikaveka FC 2-0; U14 Boys – Tupapa Maraerenga FC-Puaikura FC 3-0, Nikao Sokattak FC-Titikaveka 4-2 (Penalty Shootout); U17 Men – Nikao Sokattak FC-Matavera FC 5-1; Titikaveka FC-Avatiu FC 3-2; Senior women – Nikao Sokattak FC-Titikaveka FC 3-0; Tupapa Maraerenga FC-Puaikura FC 5-3; Premier Men – Avatiu FC-Tupapa Maraerenga FC 3-2; Puaikura FC-Takuvaine 2-1