1 Jun 2016

Sport: Playoff hopes on the line in Nations Cup

1:38 pm on 1 June 2016

Playoff hopes are on the line in tonight's second round Group A matches at the Oceania Nations Cup.

Hosts Papua New Guinea drew 1-1 with New Caledonia in their tournament opener at the weekend and will be without goalscorer Tommy Semmy, who was sent off late in the match for picking up two yellow cards.

Coach Flemming Serritslev admitted losing Semmy is a set-back but insisted his side had enough depth to cover.

"He is one of the most dangerous strikers in the tournament and we will miss him. However, we are not a one-man team. There is now an opportunity for some other players to show that they can step up. The team is full of confidence, the nerves from the opening game are gone, we determined to win and I believe we can do it."

Papua New Guinea coach Flemming Serritslev issues instructions.

Papua New Guinea coach Flemming Serritslev issues instructions. Photo: OFC via Phototek

Defending champions Tahiti will all but secure a spot in the semi-finals with a win but there coach Ludovic Graugnard said they can't afford to be complacent against a strong side on their own turf.

"I think Papua New Guinea is a very organised side, with a great ability to press and a key player who unfortunately - or fortunately for us - received a red card, the number 18 [Semmy] who we found to be very, very good."

Papua New Guinea fans show their support at the Nations Cup.

Papua New Guinea fans show their support at the Nations Cup. Photo: OFC via Phototek

New Caledonia can keep themselves in semi final contention with maximum points against Samoa.

Despite Samoa's heavy 4-0 defeat against Tahiti, Les Cagous coach Thierry Sardo was saying all the right things about their opponents.

"It would be a mistake to underestimate Samoa. It's a very important game and we can't be complacent. We will go into the match with full respect to our opponent," he said.

"By coming back to draw against a good PNG side we showed that we have a strong mentality. We should have won the opening match but the morale is good and we are confident that we can achieve our first objective which is to qualify for the semis."

New Caledonia need more goals against Samoa.

New Caledonia need more goals against Samoa. Photo: OFC via Phototek

Samoa technical advisor Stuart Pyne said they struggled with the pace of play in their first match.

"We took a bit of time at the start of the game to adjust to the speed that Tahiti play at...we've had the opportunity to watch the New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea game, we've done our homework and we will be making some minor adjustments to our squad so that they're best prepared for kick-off."

Head coach Scott Easthope hoped they will be more settled and confident against New Caledonia.

"We are looking to go out and be as good as we can be in every game, if we can improve from here and get to see more of the better stuff we produced, particularly in the second half against Tahiti, then we are a chance against anyone."

Tahiti's Steevy Chong Hue was among the goalscorers against Samoa.

Samoa struggled to keep pace with Tahiti. Photo: OFC via Phototek