Vanuatu’s Erakor Golden Star made a winning start to their OFC Champions League campaign, taking full advantage of ten-man opposition to notch a 2-0 victory over Solomon Warriors in Group B at Stade Pater in Papeete, Tahiti on Sunday (local time).
A horrible mistake in the 63rd minute by Warriors goalkeeper Abraham Bird, who let the ball slips out of his grasp as he went to throw it then handled the ball outside his area to earn a red card, swung the opening game in the favour of Erakor after what had been a see-sawing opening match to that point.
Barry Mansale curled a pinpoint free-kick past replacement custodian Jospeh Komu and before the Warriors players had time to take stock, Tony Kaltack had doubled the lead.
Kaltack had an effort chalked off for offside just 12 minutes into the match but the striker was not to be denied his sixth goal in four OFC Champions League matches at the venue after scoring in each of his side’s group matches last season.
At the other end, Serge Daniel was in fine form to keep the Solomon opposition at bay especially in the first half and Solomon Warriors coach Moses Toata rued the wasteful finishing before the dismissal changed the complexion of the match.
“The red card was the turning point in the match, Toata said, “but I’m very disappointed because we could’ve finished the game in the first half. We had three clear goal scoring opportunities and we wasted them.”
“We must give credit to Erakor’s goalkeeper. He saved a number of our chances. We lost the game because of a bad mistake from the goalkeeper.”
Erakor coach Obed Jimmy was pleased to take all three points and with the confidence it now gives them heading into Wednesday’s top of the table clash with AS Dragon.
“I’m very proud of my boys and of the result. Two nil is a huge result for us,” Jimmy said.
“It’s always important to start well. It’s great motivation for the boys. We believe we can keep winning in the next game.”
Erakor Golden Star’s next match will see them take on host club AS Dragon at Stade Pater on Wednesday 14 February (Thursday 15 February, Vanuatu time).