Tonga had defeated American Samoa 6-1 on the last day of action for Group B at the OFC U-16 Women’s Championship 2017.
Captain Seini Lutu shone throughout the entire match, opening the scoring for Tonga in the 17th minute then finding the net again late in the second half, all while dominating the midfield and creating countless opportunities up front for Lositika Feke, Carmel Uhila and Florence Hakalo.
It didn’t take long for Feke to profit from Lutu’s work in the middle, tapping a ball into goal after receiving a perfect pass at her feet in the box. Ana Povovili was next to get her name on the board, following up an American Samoa clearance and firing the ball over the hands of goalkeeper Zena Foma’i.
Lutu was very grateful for her team for winning their final appearance in the OFC U-16 Women’s championship.
‘’It was a great privileged to win our last game and I dedicated that to our country and to all our families back in Tonga.’’ Lutu said.
‘’This is my fifth time representing Tonga, and it’s really means a lot to me,’’ she added.
Lutu has been representing Tonga since 2014 with the U-20, again in 2015 with U-20. In 2016 she was in the U-17 and last month she was in the U-19 in Auckland.
American Samoa fought back to get one on the board in the injury time of the first half, with Oloataua Tofaeono using her speed to break through the Tonga backline before carefully placing the ball out of goalkeeper Kalolaine Topui’s reach.
The debutant’s celebrations were short-lived, however, with back-to-back goals from Litea Taukapo and Siunipa Talasinga in the 72nd and 73rd minute extending Tonga’s margin.
With one win, one draw and one loss, Tonga’s OFC U-16 Championship campaign has come to an end, but Tonga coach Lafaele Moala has been more than happy with his team’s campaign.
“I’m so excited to see that we have improved from our weaknesses in the first game. The girls did great today. They did their best and never gave up,” he said.
“I’ve been happy with our overall performance despite our loss in the first game. We stuck to our plan and our objectives for this tournament.
“We plan on keeping this team together and preparing for the next U-20 competition. I want to keep this team and continue their training to become a better team in the future.”
Tonga team will now heading home after completing their pool round.