Fiji will face New Zealand in their first-ever Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) Women’s Nations Cup final on Saturday (December 1) after beating Papua New Guinea 5-1 at the Stade de la Roche in Maré today.
Five-time champions New Zealand dominated the other-semi-final, thrashing tournament hosts New Caledonia 8-0 at the Stade de Hnassé in Lifou.
Despite Fiji’s early dominance, Papua New Guinea caught their opponents off guard in the 12th minute with a quick counter-attack which saw Meagen Gunemba run behind the defence to put her side in front.
Fiji’s American-based striker Trina Davis kept the Papua New Guinea backline busy as they tried to contain her speed, but she was eventually able to break them down and level the match in the 24th minute with a smart run in behind the back four to slot past a helpless Betty Sam.
Moments later Luisa Tamanitoakula evaded several Papua New Guinea defenders to put Fiji into the lead with a smart finish from close range.
Fiji had an opportunity to extend their lead in the 34th minute when they were awarded a penalty, only for Cema Nasau to watch in disbelief as Sam thwarted her spot-kick.
Papua New Guinea made a concerted effort to pull themselves back into the encounter with captain Sandra Birum unlucky to hit the woodwork with a long-range effort early in the second-half.
The game was still there for the taking for both teams up until the hour mark before Davis helped put it to bed with a brilliant solo goal to make it 3-1.
Nasau then made amends for her first-half penalty miss, scoring the fourth goal in style before Sofi Diyalowai grabbed a fifth late on.
"Definitely we imagine that we can only improve football in Fiji - right now it is just only an infant," Fiji coach Marika Rodu said afterwards.
"Our structure is still young but to see these girls come out and prove themselves here in the region is quite amazing."
FULL TIME | Fiji have created history to reach their first OFC Women's Nations Cup final after a 5-1 win over Papua New Guinea in the semi-final at Stade de la Roche in Mare, New Caledonia #OFCWNC #PNGFIJ pic.twitter.com/B5ZaX1bFGM— OFC Oceania Football (@OFCfootball) 28 November 2018
"Secondly, coming out of the qualification stage, we didn’t expect to come all this way," he added.
"But now we are in this position we just want to give the glory back to God.
"Thanks a lot to the players, their families back at home also to my support staff who are here with me."
New Zealand did not allow New Caledonia to settle into the other semi-final clash with veteran midfielder Betsy Hassett tucking the ball into the net in the opening minute of the match.
Emma Rolston netted the first of her hat-trick of goals in the seventh minute before scoring twice more in the first-half, including a stunning lob from distance that had goalkeeper Lorenza Hnamano well beaten.
Katie Bowen got her name on the scoresheet in the 26th minute before Paige Satchell got one of her own shortly after the half-hour mark.
Rosie White got the first of her two goals in the 38th minute with her second being the only one New Zealand managed to register in the second-half.
"I’m delighted again, especially from the way we started," New Zealand coach Tom Sermanni said.
"I think that’s what’s been a highlight for us - that we’ve started games really well and have been fortunate to score early goals and that’s taken the pressure off us."
The final will be preceded by the third-place play-off between Papua New Guinea and New Caledonia.
Both matches will be played at the Stade Numa-Daly Magenta in Nouméa.