The inaugural Tonga Futsal League culminated in a thrilling final between two worthy sides, but it was consistent concentration that helped Lo’ihele-Fahefa to an 8-7 victory over Veitongo.
Lo’ihele-Fahefa finished top of Group A with a slim one-point margin over Veitongo during the league so when they found themselves facing off in the final, fans knew it would be a tight encounter.
Fahefa came through the first half strongly, bouncing out to a 5-1 lead by the break.
However, Veitongo drew on the experienced members of their squad to pull themselves back into the game in the second half scoring six goals in a quick 15 minute period to take a 7-6 lead.
With a minute remaining on the clock, Fahefa pulled themselves back into the race with an equaliser to send the game into extra time.
Fahefa coach Teruo Filitonga said extra-time was as far as his side were willing to let the game go.
“My captain, Fololeni Siale, said she didn’t want to go to a shootout,” he said.
“In the second half of over time we scored the winning goal. It was a good game, I had a strong belief in my team.”
Filitonga said going into the final he felt confident about his team’s ability to come through with the win.
“I did believe we’d win just because since the beginning they’d been doing really well. We played Veitongo in the pool match and won 4-0. The team were over the moon at the final whistle, they are already ready to win some more.”
The Tonga Futsal League is a new competition but had an impressive 14 teams engaged and Filitonga is optimistic about the impact the game could have on football development in Tonga.
“I think futsal is all about skill and I have a very talented, young team and I think that’s why we do well. My wife, the captain, is the oldest in the team at 30, the rest are all under 20.
“It has been a great experience, the kids seemed to enjoy it and I think it helps a lot with young kids and skills with footwork.”