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(Note: Fiji is + 2 hours AEST)
Fiji women defeated Papua New Guinea 5-0 to win the Gold medal in a match set up by Oceania Hockey following FIH World League round-robin action.
The first few minutes of the match was a tough tussle between both teams but Fiji managed to get the upper hand first with a goal to Litiana Sogotubu in the 13th minute.
In the 26th minute PNG had a chance of equalising but Fiji was able to turn the ball over and the ensuing attack from their own circle culminated in a goal to the Fiji captain Melba Nautu 4 minutes later.
Score at half-time 2-0 to Fiji Women.
Fiji’s momentum grew in the second half with their 3rd goal coming in the 40th minute, Nautu’s second of the match. Fiji kept up the pressure and it paid off in the 51st minute when Asinate Blake did a spectacular dive to deflect the goal into the back of the net to produce Fiji’s 4th goal.
Fiji’s 5th and final goal came from a penalty corner scored by Ateca Fatufago, sealing their 1st place win. “It’s pretty exciting because it’s the first opportunity that we’ve gotten to (take part) in World league,” said Nautu. “Playing in our home country it’s just the best feeling.”
Fiji Women’s performance in the tournament, thrashing the other Pacific countries, goes to show the advantage of having the only artificial turf in the Pacific. But the amount of local support was another attributing factor to the Fiji Women’s success. “To have support from family and friends is huge.”
But in the end it was the calibre of players in the team that made all the difference. “We’ve started with not many experienced girls, for us to reach this level and to play the way we did, coming out first in the pools, hats off to the girls because they played superb.”
But the Fiji Women’s campaign isn’t over yet as they will face Australia Country again for the 1st and 2nd OPC playoff tomorrow. “We don’t want to count our chickens before they hatch because we know Australia (Country) will come back at us,” Nautu stated. “We’re just hoping for the best.”