Tahiti scores a goal against Nigeria

Tahiti lost 6:1 to Nigeria in their first Confederations Cup group-stage match. It was a result everyone expected and one that would’ve been absolutely devastating to most any team on the losing end of a scoreline that lopsided, but for Tahiti it was cause for joy. Ranked 138th in the world, Tahiti is the smallest nation to ever take part in a FIFA senior tournament. They have just one professional player on the team in 33-year-old Marama Vahirua, who plays for Nancy in Ligue 1.
“Our wildest dream as a team is to score a goal” – Tahiti coach Eddy Etaeta told ESPN before the tournament began. After giving Nigeria players the gift of shell necklaces before the match and allowing three goals in the first half, Tahiti actually lived their wildest dream with a Jonathan Tehua goal off a corner kick in the 54th minute.

Tahiti scores a goal against Nigeria

Jonathan Tehau struggled to articulate his joy after becoming the first player to score for Tahiti at a high-profile international tournament in his side’s 6:1 loss to Nigeria at the Confederations Cup.
Ranked 138th in the world, Tahiti are making their first appearance in a competition of this level and despite the margin of defeat in Monday’s game, they celebrated Tehau’s 54th-minute goal like a victory.
With the score 3:0, Tehau converted a back post-header from a corner before leading his team-mates in an imitation of the kayak-paddling celebration performed by Marama Vahirua, their one professional player.
The midfielder, who also works as a delivery driver and plays alongside his twin brothers Lorenzo and Alvin, as well as cousin Teaonui, said his mind had gone blank when the ball hit the net.
“I didn’t think of anything. I just celebrated the goal with my friends” – said the 25-year-old, who also scored an own goal later in the game.


Tahiti qualified for the tournament by beating New Caledonia in the 2012 Oceanic Football Confederation Nations Cup final. It was the first time there was a winner other than Australia – now in the more competitive Asian Football Confederation – or New Zealand, who were upset by New Caledonia in the semifinals.
Unfortunately – Tahiti’s nice gesture didn’t help their luck. The crowd in the half-full Estadio Mineirao was very much on their side, but just five minutes into the match, Nigeria scored with a shot that took two deflections after after the ball went off the referee. They added a second goal in the 10th minute and a third in the 25th. Though Tahiti did get a few decent chances in the first 45 minutes against Nigeria going half-speed, watching all of this unfold was like watching a puppy repeatedly get kicked by someone who doesn’t want to be kicking a puppy.

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