BY ROMULUS HUTA
In Port Moresby, PNG
THE national under-18 hockey boys have recorded a draw and a loss in the opening day of the Oceania Youth Olympic qualifiers currently underway in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (PNG).
The Allen Temoa-coached side got into the tournament taking on hosts PNG in the opener yesterday morning at the Sir John Guise Hockey Pavilion.
Buoyed by a strong support of the home crowd, the home side went in with a lot of determination and was evident with their dominance of the first two thirds.
Two blatant defensive blunders committed by the Solomon Islanders in the defence allowed the hosts to slot home a goal each in the first two thirds and led 2-0 at first breather.
Trailing by a two-goal deficit, Solomon Islands regrouped after the final interval and bagged two goals for a great comeback settling the score line at 2-all before fulltime whistle.
Solomon Islands went in for the second match in the boy’s competition taking on Melanesian neighbours Vanuatu and unfortunately succumbed to a 5-2 defeat.
Despite a strong start, Vanuatu capitalised on hesitant defending to take out the first third leading by a goal to nil.
Solomon Islands managed to pull one back as the match resumed into the second third but Vanuatu extended lead to 3-1 by the interval.
The national youth hockey side appeared to have lost their focus in the final third and squandered a couple of scoring opportunities infront of the goal area. Vanuatu pressured and scored another two goals to make it 5-1 before a long range stunner from the Solomon Islands playmaker Ralph Masae pulled one back to reduce the deficit to three goals with the 5-2 scoreline by fulltime.
Meanwhile, Australia is currently leading the boys’ competition with six points following two wins in two matches during the opening day.
Vanuatu is currently second on the table with three points. Solomon Islands is currently placed third with one point while PNG occupies the fourth spot.
The competition continues today and Solomon Islands will take on favourites Australia in the fourth match at 12noon.
The Oceania Youth Hockey competition is the qualification pathway toward this year’s Youth Olympic Games in Argentina in October where the top two winners in the boys’ category will earn automatic qualifications.