Fight on for third

Each has the same goal as they approach the play-off for third but will come into the match with contrasting levels of confidence.
The Solomon Islands defence leaked a steady stream of goals in their 8-0 semi-final loss to New Zealand, while Cook Islands went down 1-0 against Papua New Guinea but can consider themselves unlucky after putting in a very spirited performance.
“I’m really pleased with how the girls have gone,” Cook Islands coach Jimmy Katoa says.
“The semi-final could’ve gone either way. We had some chances and it’s just a pity that that’s how things go sometimes. I am disappointed with the result but am not disappointed with the girls.”
They will be very keen to end their campaign on a high note but Solomon Islands will be just as eager to put in a good performance to help erase the memory of that heavy loss against New Zealand.
Both sides have done well to even make it this far.
Cook Islands have created a piece of history by becoming the first side from their country to make it to the semi-finals of a tournament while Solomon Islands have shown how far they’ve come since the last edition of the competition in 2007. They managed just one goal three years ago and conceded 14 to pick up the wooden spoon.
Assistant coach Diane Justus was on the playing roster then and says the team had much higher aspirations this time.
“Our goal coming into the tournament was to go home with a medal and we’re on track for that,” she says.
To do so, the Solomon defence, which has been well marshalled by captain Rose Gwali and includes a safe pair of hands in goalkeeper Betty Sade, will have to contain the dangerous Cook Islands strike force of Dayna Napa and Regina Mustonen.
Both found the net once during the group stages – Mustonen’s goal being a stunning free kick to win their opening match against Tahiti – and their pace and skill has proved a constant menace to opposing defences.
Katoa is pleased with how the pair have gone but feels if they had played together more often leading up to the tournament – Napa is based in New Zealand and only linked up with her team mates on their arrival in Auckland – they would have been even more of a handful.
Other standout performers have been captain and midfield playmaker Mama Henry and goalkeeper Marjorie Toru.
Toru will have to be on her toes to keep out the likes of Solomons striker Ileen Pegi, who has caught the eye with some nifty footwork in wide areas.
The Solomons squad has plenty of skill but the Cook Islanders play with good structure and their superior size and athletic ability should give them an advantage.
The match kicks off at 1pm on the North Harbour Stadium outer oval and the grand final between New Zealand and Papua New Guinea takes place shortly afterwards at 4pm on the same field.

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