BY ROMULUS HUTA
SOLOMON Warriors coach Moses Toata says the sending off of their goalkeeper coupled with wasteful finishing had cost them the 2-0 loss succumbed to Vanuatu’s Erakor Golden Star in their opening match of the Oceania Champions League Group B competition at Stade Pater in Papeete, Tahiti yesterday.
Goalkeeper Abraham Izomo Bird was sent off in the 63rd minute after handling the ball outside the area, leaving Warriors to play with 10 men for the remainder of the match.
The horrible mistake occurred when Bird, who let the ball slip out of his grasp as he went to throw it then handled the ball outside his area to earn a red card, swung the opening game in the favour of Erakor after what had been a seesawing opening match to that point.
Blaming that red card along with a number of chances squandered infront of goalmouth by Warriors players, Toata said “the red card was the turning point in the match.”
“I’m very disappointed because we could’ve finished the game in the first half.
“We had three clear goal scoring opportunities and we wasted them.
“We must give credit to Erakor’s goalkeeper. He saved a number of our chances. We lost the game because of a bad mistake from the goalkeeper.”
Bird’s sending off gave the advantage for Erakor to dominate and they managed to come away with two quick goals in the 66th and the 67th minutes respectively to win the game.
Barry Mansale curled a pinpoint free-kick past replacement custodian Jospeh Komu and before the Warriors players had time to take stock, Tony Kaltack had doubled the lead to compound the misery for Warriors following the loss of their number one keeper.
Erakor coach Obed Jimmy was pleased to take all three points and with the confidence it now gives them heading into Thursday’s top of the table clash with AS Dragon.
“I’m very proud of my boys and of the result. Two nil is a huge result for us,” Jimmy said.
“It’s always important to start well. It’s great motivation for the boys. We believe we can keep winning in the next game.”
Group B of the 2018 OFC Champions League continues on Thursday when Warriors and AS Lossi meet in a must win clash followed by AS Dragon and Erakor Golden Star chasing a chance to potentially book a quarterfinal place.