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Monday, October 21, 2013


The Tuvalu national side have been touring Holland since mid-August, and are due to play their last match on 31/10/13 in Eindhoven. Pat's Football Blog has been following the team's progress from near and far, and now follows the first of a small number of match-reports. This particular match-report features the match between SV Panningen and the Tuvalu side, made up of mainly second-string players, which took place on 27/8/13.

There surely can't be many better things for the average football fan to do than go to a game on a balmy summer's evening, and several hundred people from the small southern Dutch town of Panningen and its hinterland did exactly that on 29/8/13 when local side SV Panningen played host to the Tuvalu national team which is currently on an 11-week training tour of Holland.

The Tuvalu side warmed up with a 20-minute kickabout against the entire young boys' section of SV Panningen (comprising the three youngest divisions of the club's teams) - known for the occasion as 101 Kids - and it was the kids, supported by at least 101 parents, who came out on top by 6 goals to 2 in a game enjoyed by one and all.

The more serious business of SV Panningen's seniors taking on Tuvalu began just after 19:00, and the first few minutes were fairly even, before SV Panningen's Patrick Joosten had his effort turned behind for a corner by Tuvalu goalkeeper Jerry Selau in the fifth minute. Team-mate Remco Litjens headed just wide four minutes later, before Tuvalu central defender Geoffrey Maleko was substituted by guest player and ex-Dutch international Stan Valckx in the eleventh minute. Joosten had the ball in the Tuvalu net seconds later, but his effort was adjuged to have been offside.

Ward Schatorie's half-volley fizzed across the face of the visitors' goal, but the early pressure from SV Panningen paid off with Roger op het Veld's fine hook-shot from the edge of the area coming off both bar and right-hand post before crossing the line to give the hosts a deserved lead in the 17th minute.

There then followed a period in which Tuvalu dominated proceedings, beginning with a dangerous ball played across the Panningen box by Eric Tealofi, which was put behind for a corner. Good interchange play from Tiute and Nelesone Musika led to Tealofi's shot being blocked by a defender and subsequently cleared after 23 minutes. 

Tuvalu's first real shot on target came after twenty-four minutes, when Musika's shot was saved comfortably by Bart Lenders in the SV Panningen goal. Five minutes elapsed before a surge down the left side by Tiute eventually saw his effort on goal saved by Leenders and go behind for a corner. Tealofi was substituted by Sio Silitone on the half-hour, and scarcely had the switch taken place before Panningen were on the attack, with the Tuvalu goalkeeper spilling an effort from a free-kick by the hosts before saving the follow-up.

With half-time approaching, a cross-shot was missed by Selau and was picked up on the left-hand side of the Tuvalu penalty-area, who delivered a deft pass to Schatorje, who had impressed in the first-half up to that point, but who promptly ballooned the ball over the bar. Litjens then had a shot saved with some comfort by Selau and then, right on half-time, Tuvalu almost sneaked an equaliser when Lepaio's speculative shot bamboozled Bart Leenders in the SV Panningen goal, who, almost prone, fumbled the ball which went over him and just wide of his left-hand post.

Half-time saw SV Panningen go in with a deserved 1:0 lead; Bram Leenders, Joosten and Schatorje were the pick of the bunch for the hosts, whilst Lepaio was steady at the back for the visitors, and Tiute and Musika were a constant source of attacks for Tuvalu.

There were a raft of substitutions by both teams at half-time, and SV Panningen started the second-half the stronger of the two sides, with Nicky Craenmehr shooting just wide in the 48th minute. Three minutes later, substitute Robin van Osch thought he had put Panningen 2:0 up, but, after too much intricate football by his team-mates on the edge of the Tuvalu penalty-area, had moved into an offside position before putting the ball in the net.

A minute later, Filialofa's shot was deflected away to safety, before Panningen substitute Ooms' shot over the bar from 30 yards. Just moments later, Panningen doubled their lead through van Osch, who found himself on the end of a through-ball, and sweetly curled the ball into Selau's lower left-hand corner.

After a short period of pressure from Tuvalu, the 62nd minute saw a mix-up between Willie and Silitone just inside the Panningen half which saw the ball being passed to van Osch, who ran the length of the Tuvalu half and struck a low shot to the left of Selau for the hosts' third.

Another broken-down Tuvalu counter-attack resulted in Joey Bodde rampaging down the visitors' left wing before brushing off Alefaio, who had been having a good game at the back for the visitors, and crossing the ball to van Osch, who rounded off a quick-fire hat-trick by crashing the ball past Selau from around 12 yards out.

Valckx was replaced after the goal by Sepuli Loaha, and, strangely enough, Tuvalu played their best football of the match after his substitution with Loaha at the heart o fmuch of the action. Almost immediately, Tiute finished nicely after a through ball from Loaha, but the goal was ruled out for offside; it was a marginal decision at best, with Tiute appearing to be level with the hosts' defence when the ball was threaded through to him.

Craenmehr then almost made it 5:0 for the hosts, but slipped a split-second before getting his shot in, which Selau gathered without fuss. Tuvalu kept plugging away, and Loaha shot over the bar after a one-two with Tiute, who had been creating havoc down Panningen's left-hand side. 

Moments later, in the 77th minute, with the gloom gathering, Tiute earned Tuvalu a penalty when, having turned Ooms inside-out just inside the penalty-area, the defender could do nothing but give his shirt a tug. James Lepaio took the penalty, but it was a tame effort to the right of substitute goalkeeper Glen Smeets, which was easily smothered by the 'keeper.

may have seen Smeets save his penalty, but he would no doubt have been heartened by the manner in which Tuvalu got on the score-sheet after seventy-nine minutes. Some good play from Tiute on the left resulted in some pinball in the Panningen penalty-area before the ball came back out to Tiute, who put in a low cross, which was then pulled back into the path of Panapa Matoa, who steadied himself before stroking the ball into the lower left-hand corner. Despite missing the penalty, it was no more than the Tuvalu team deserved after a spirited second-half display.

A Panningen breakaway three minutes later saw a pass from the left reach Joosten, who inexplicably sidefooted the ball over Selau's goal. Soon after, a dangerous cross from the right evaded everybody in the Panningen area before the ball ran behind the goal-line; at the other end, Litjens' attempt from distance was put behind by Selau.

The game was petering out by this stage, but not before a second goal was scored by the visitors; a good ball out to the right by Sio Silitone was picked up by Leiato Uoli, who executed a delightful chip over the advancing Smeets from the right-hand side of the Panningen box and into the opposite corner.

That was the last meaningful action of an entertaining, sporting encounter in which SV Panningen just about deserved their victory, but it was also a match in which Tuvalu more than played their part. For the home team, Robin van Osch would be a rightful contender for man of the match thanks to his explosive second-half hat-trick; fellow substitutes Ooms and Bodde were very effective, while Litjens and Craenmehr also played well.

Lepaio played a captain's game for Tuvalu, while Tiute was a constant source of torment for the Panningen defence throughout the game, as was Musika during the first half; Sio Silitone had a commendable second-half while Fatu Alefaio was the proverbial rock at the back. The adventurous Selau, who proved that he was almost as effective at left-back as he was between the sticks, could not be blamed in any way for the four goals conceded.


SUBSTITUTES: 12 Glen SMEETS (GK), 2 Rob BAKKER, 5 Nick VAN DEN BEUCKEN; 9 Matijs HEESEN; 11 Robin VAN DEN OSCH; 14 Maikel OOMS; 19 Joey BODDE; 20 Mathijs BRUMMANS

TUVALU: 1 Tiele SELAU; 15 Fatu ALEFAIO, 3 James LEFAIO, 24 Geoffrey MALEKO, 4 Uota ALE; 8 Taufaiva IONATANA, 5 Eric TEALOFI, 2 Sepe WILLIE; 6 Teake FILIALOFA, 18 Nelesone MUSIKA, 7 Lutelu TIUTE

SUBSTITUTES: Bill TONISE (GK), Stan VALCKX, 11 Sepuli LOAHA, 12 Panapa MAFOA, 14 Leiatu UOLI, 17 Sio SILITONE

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Many thanks to a member of the Panningen board for kindly providing the home team's line-up; with regards to Tuvalu, a lot of guesswork was involved. Apologies to those involved with the Tuvalu squad for any errors contained in the article - there may well be a few; they shall be rectified as soon as they are pointed out. Finally, thanks to Joost (the mini-bus drver) for the lift!

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