Tahiti have completed a 3-0 clean sweep of New Zealand’s Futsal Whites in the first FIFA-sanctioned international futsal series to be held in French Polynesia recording 3-1, 4-2 and 2-0 victories
Currently ranked second in the Oceania region, the Aito Arii proved the dominant force in the series which wrapped up yesterday during the opening day of the annual Festival des Iles.
Over 2000 fans packed a sold-out Stade Napoleon Spitz for the opening match on 29 March with the Aito Arii taking full advantage of their home ground status.
The Tahitians imposed an early stranglehold on the match allowing them to go 3-0 up at half-time thanks to a fifth minute goal from Teivarii Kaiha followed up by strikes from Utiera Pukoki and Steven Tino.
The Futsal Whites struggled with the warm conditions and an unfamiliar concrete court surface from the beginning but came back in the second stanza to score their one and only goal of the match, a 38th minute strike from Lucas Da Silva.
Both sides had plenty of opportunities to score throughout the second half, but neither could convert handing Tahiti captain Teva Durot and his men victory in the first ever international futsal match in their country.
The second match on Sunday, 31 March marked another victory for the Aito Arii with Kaiha not only opening the scoring, but securing a brace with goals in the sixth and 15th minutes.
An own goal from an under-pressure New Zealand defence helped Tahiti extend their in the 16th minute. However despite being 3-0 down, the Kiwis made a strong comeback in the second half with James Vaughan opening the scoring for his side 30 minutes into the match.
Six minutes Kaiha got his hat-trick to give Tahiti a 4-1 lead over the Futsal Whites before New Zealand captain Marvin Eakins converted a penalty to bring the final score to 4-2 in the home side’s favour.
The final match of the series on Tuesday, 2 April was the feature match of the opening day of the Festival des Iles, an annual football and futsal event bringing together over 700 players from around French Polynesia.
Tahiti once again proved the dominant force in the five-a-side game winning 2-0 to wrap up the series with three wins.
New Zealand futsal development manager Dave Payne says the series has highlighted the benefits of the Tahitians intensive preparation programme.
“What has really struck me since being here is the emphasis Tahiti is putting on the small-sided games like futsal and beach soccer,” Payne says.
“Tahiti will be the ones to watch in July, they’re definitely closing the gap on the Solomons.”
For more on Tahiti football go to www.ftf.pf