When referee Joel Hopken blew the final whistle Papua New Guinea were leading with four goals, while Tonga was scoreless.
But the Tongans played their best right through the 90 minutes as local spectators were cheering for them at the Stade Pater in their first showcase in the OFC U-19 Championship, Tahiti.
In the first half of their game, the Tongans threw everything, and they appeared to play very strategically. The Papua New Guineans showed how fast and skillful they were,
but the Tongans still covered them by man-to-man marking and they got them working really hard especially when they came near the Tongan goal mouth. The Papua New Guinean strikers made few shots but the Tongan goal keeper, Semisi ‘Otukolo made many crucial save to deny PNG taking the lead.
The Tongans had few chances to score but the PNG runners made them so uncomfortable and lost their confidence and could not finish with a goal.
In the extra minutes of the first half, PNG finally succeed in making their first goal in order to lead before the half time, however the honour of the opening goal of the tournament fell to Jonathan Allen.
In the second half, the Tongans performed pretty strong and they managed to step up to mark those PNG sprinters even though the PNG added three more goals in order for them to win.
The Tongan goal keeper, Semisi ‘Otukolo play extremely well as he made many great saves to deny PNG getting more goals.
Coach Soane Mailangi considered the result with a very grateful heart and also proud of his side as they managed to hold on the game and they did not allowed PNG to make more goals.
‘’Well, I give the credit to the PNG team, not only they won but they did make my boys worked harder til the last minute. I did identify what exactly need to iron out, and I’m happy that my boys were tasting the toughness and difficult top eight group, and they must know the ability to deal with, but we won’t rest we will continue on preparing for our next game, and I’m proud of my boys and I’m still believing in them,’’ he added.
The team manager, Fili Ta’ai said he was pleased as he witnessed how the boys threw everything on the field and he’s proud of them too.
Tonga’s next game will be on Wednesday 8th August 2018 and they are taking the most tougher but the current champion, New Zealand in their second match.