The crazy nature of June's Oceania Nations Cup has been brought into focus by the fact the team that finished third are clear leaders and the team that won are dead last.
New Zealand top the table with two wins from two games (eight goals for, two against) and take on Nations Cup champions Tahiti home and away next month. Tahiti, who will compete at next year's Confederations Cup in Brazil after winning in Honiara, are the only team without a win, having gone down 4-0 to New Caledonia at home last night. That was on top of Tahiti's 2-0 opening defeat to the Solomon Islands on Friday.
Defeat to the All Whites next month will virtually eliminate Tahiti from contention for a playoff with the fourth-best side from North and Central America for a place at the 2014 World Cup.
They have often had tense matches with New Caledonia, but were undone by three goals in five second-half minutes and were eventually humbled 4-0.
The hosts were left stunned when France-based midfielder Cesar Lolohea unleashed a long-range shot that struck the post and found its way in off the goalkeeper on 57 minutes. Before they had time to get their breath back, Tahiti found themselves three goals down as Lolohea turned provider twice in quick succession.
He first picked out Bertrand Kai for the 2011 OFC Player of the Year to extend the lead in the 60th minute before finding the head of Georges Gope-Fenepej, who had an empty net to aim for after Samin was left stranded. It was all but game over from that point on and Tahiti could find no way to breach Les Cagous' rearguard, instead falling further behind when French Ligue 1 player Gope-Fenepej helped himself to a second in the dying moments.
The result _ one of the highlights of New Caledonia's recent record _ will go some way towards avenging the outcome of the Nations Cup, when Les Cagous finished second behind Tahiti.
"It was a crucial game for us,'' New Caledonia coach Alain Moizan, a former France international, said. "Thanks to this win, we have now stayed in contention to qualify for the next phase. We will have to earn good results in our next matches against the Solomon Islands and then prepare well for our trip to New Zealand.''
Having experienced that unprecedented high in Honiara in June, Tahiti coach Eddy Etaeta was disappointed to have been brought back down to Earth with two losses in the third stage and it won't have helped that one of those defeats was against the old foe.
"We managed the first half well but the start of the second was more difficult,'' he said.
"We lacked rhythm and the players did not look in good physical condition, I think the travel back from the Solomon Islands had a negative effect. It will now be difficult for us for the rest of the competition.''
Tahiti 0 New Caledonia 4 (Cesar Lolohea 57, Bertrand Kai 60, Georges Gope-Fenepej 62, 90). HT: 0-0.