Tongan father and son duo lights up Qualifier
Tongan eyes were smiling on the opening match day at the 2019 OFC Champions League Qualifier tournament as Lotoha’apai United FC put Pago Youth to the sword.
Following days of heavy rain in Rarotonga the sun shone brightly in time for kick off in the tournament opener between the top teams from Tonga and American Samoa at the island’s picturesque CIFA Complex.
Determined to make good use of the improving conditions Lotoha’apai United showed plenty of intent from the outset to put their opponent under intense pressure, only to be frustrated by a well organised and hardworking Pago Youth defence.
Growing in confidence the American Samoans have flexed their own counter attacking muscle to take the lead against the run of play in the 45th minute thanks to Puni Samuelo who spotted the Tongan keeper off his line before lobbing the ball over him from distance.
It didn’t take long for Lotoha’apai to get back on level terms following the half-time break courtesy of Tuia Falepapalangi who netted twice more in quick succession to complete an impressive second half hat-trick by the 66th minute.
Hema Polovili made it 4-1 for the Tongan champions before Tuia’s father Pua Falepapalangi put the icing on the cake by creating family and Pacific Island football history.
Lotoha’apai coach Lui Muavesi heaped praise on the father and son duo which contributed four of his side’s five goals in a famous and crucial victory.
“Tuia is one of the most promising young talents, he represented Tonga at Under-20 level and he is one of the players to watch in the Pacific.
“It’s also a piece of history playing with his dad in the field, his father who is the captain, and they scored four goals between them, it’s history for Tonga and also for Oceania.” Muavesi said.
Despite the defeat Pago Youth coach Rambo Tapui was also keen to focus on the positives.
“I think our effort was better than I expected, I think the boys came out with a lot of credit, but no excuses.
“We competed well in the first half but we have to work on our fitness, I think our fitness let us down in the end,” added the Pago Youth coach.