Final group games confirm Auckland-Amicale final

Auckland City showed why they deserve to be in the O-League final and Amicale made sure they would be the team to face them during the last round of 2011 O-League group action today.


Amicale's Gibson Daudau, left, beats Koloale defender Francis
Lafai in front of a packed house at Lawson Tama Stadium.

City handed out a comprehensive 5-0 defeat at home to Tefana while Amicale picked up no points from their trip to Koloale after a 1-0 loss but did enough to remain top of Group A and confirm their place in the final. In the other matches played this afternoon, Waitakere United salvaged some pride with a 2-1 win over Magenta while Hekari United earned a last-gasp 1-1 draw against Lautoka.

Two-time champions Auckland finish unbeaten in Group B, six points clear of closest rivals Waitakere, and will look to continue their momentum going into April’s two-legged final.

Captain Ivan Vicelich got the scoring underway by heading home Stuart Kelly’s corner in the 28th minute before striker Daniel Koprivcic blasted in a rebound from close range just before the break.

Andrew Milne made it three after 58 minutes as the chances kept coming for the home side in the second half. Tefana showed their frustration by picking up five yellow cards, including one for a dangerous Stephane Faatiarau tackle on Ian Hogg in the 90th minute. That foul gave away a penalty and the City left back stepped up himself to convert it.

Koprivcic, who was in fine form throughout, put the finishing touch on an impressive performance, coolly slotting the ball under goalkeeper Xavier Samin in injury time to grab his second and the team’s fifth.

Co-coach Ramon Tribulietx was understandably happy with how the match panned out.

“It’s another good performance, we controlled possession and dominated the game,” he says. “We can’t really ask for more from our players. We’ve finished unbeaten in the group which is a great achievement, especially considering we were missing some key players at the start of the season.

“Now with everyone onboard and looking ahead to the final, we need to maintain our high standards because it’s always difficult to go up to the islands and play.”

Opposing coach Laurent Heinis was disappointed to have finished at the bottom of Group B and felt his side performed better today than the scoreline suggests.

“I think the end result was not a fair reflection of the game,” he says. “We matched them for most of it but gave away goals at important times like just before half-time and full-time. But Auckland deserved to win and showed again that they are the best in this group.”

The other New Zealand team found the going much tougher during their home match but Neil Emblen’s Waitakere managed to steal all three points against Magenta with a late Allan Pearce strike.

The result was a tad harsh on the visitors, who stroked the ball around nicely to dominate large periods of the match but couldn’t make that possession count on the scoreboard.

They did however find the net first after Waitakere player-coach Neil Emblen, who treated onlookers to a rare 90-minute shift in the United defence, brought down Andre Naxue in the box. Former French professional Benjamin Longue squeezed the penalty past Danny Robinson, who got a decent foot to the ball but couldn’t stop it finding the net.

That lead lasted only a matter of seconds as Waitakere immediately broke to the other end and scored when Ryan De Vries lifted the ball over advancing Magenta goalkeeper Jean Yan Dounezeck.

The New Caledonians enjoyed the better of the second half but had their hearts broken with only a few minutes remaining when Mike Gwyther broke down the left and crossed for ex-All White Pearce to tap home into an open goal.

The drama did not finish after the final whistle, Magenta’s Wilson Forest being shown a straight red card following a post-match skirmish between a few players from each team.

Emblen was relieved to sign off on a high and already has an eye on next year.

“It’s good to finish second in the group,” he says. “I know we haven’t got through to the final and we’re out of the competition but it’s a pleasing way to end. It wasn’t a pretty game today, neither team looked like winning at times so we’re happy to get the win and can now look forward to next year.”

The former New Zealand Knights player feels a lack of experience cost his side dearly at times during the campaign.

“I think maybe this year we were just a bit too young as a squad,” he says. “We’ve lost a lot of senior players lately, so we’re going to have to look at bringing in a couple of 26 to 30 year olds that can just come into the squad and help us push on in this competition. Domestically, we’re doing all right and the youngsters are performing well but to go to the next level in the O-League we need a bit more experience.”

One side who will be going to the next level is Amicale, who left the door slightly ajar for nearest rivals Lautoka by losing 1-0 to Koloale in what was almost an all-Solomon Islands affair in Honiara. But Lautoka could not pull off the massive victory over Hekari it would have taken for them to steal top spot in Group A and their bid fizzled out with a 1-1 draw.

Thousands packed into Lawson Tama Stadium to watch their Koloale heroes take on Amicale, who included Solomon Islands stars Richard Anisua, Nelson Sale, Jack Wetney, Gibson Daudau and Stanley Waita in their starting line-up. The legendary Batram Suri, a household name in the football-mad Solomons, was among the substitutes and earned a rapturous reception when he took the field just before the hour mark.

The fanatical home fans had more to cheer in the 83rd minute when Joses Nawo latched onto a Jeffery Bule through ball and beat both defender Alphonse Bongnaim and goalkeeper Ernest Bong before slotting home for the win.

Hekari also left it late, waiting until almost the last kick of the game to earn a share of the spoils against Lautoka. The Fijian side went ahead through captain Peni Finau in the 38th minute but were denied their third win of the season when Andrew Setefano pounced in the fifth minute of injury time.

Setefano’s strike was the last goal of the 2011 O-League group stages and the result means Koloale pip Lautoka to second place in Group A.

The first leg of the grand final will take place on the weekend of April 2-3 while the second will be held on April 16 or 17.

2011 O-League Match Day Six Results

Auckland City [NZL]: 5 (Ivan VICELICH 28', Daniel KOPRIVCIC 44', 90' + 1', Andrew MILNE 59', Ian HOGG [PEN] 90')
Tefana [TAH]: 0
Half-time: 2-0
Saturday 19 March
Kiwitea St
Auckland, New Zealand

Waitakere United [NZL]: 2 (Ryan DE VRIES 32', Allan PEARCE 88')
Magenta [NCL]: 1 (Benjamin LONGUE 29')
Half-time: 1-1
Saturday 19 March
Fred Taylor Park
Auckland, New Zealand

Koloale [SOL]: 1 (Joses NAWO 83')
Amicale [VAN]: 0
Half-time: 0-0
Saturday 19 March
Lawson Tama Stadium
Honiara, Solomon Islands

Hekari United [PNG]: 1 (Andrew SETEFANO 90' + 5')
Lautoka [FIJ]: 1 (Peni FINAU 38')
Half-time: 0-1
Saturday 19 March
PMRL Stadium
Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

Auckland City vs Tefana Summary Click Here

Waitakere United vs Magenta Summary Click Here

Koloale vs Amicale Summary Click Here

Updated On Sunday, March 20, 2011