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2020 Review – Club football

Veitongo FC and Lupe Ole Soaga SC met during this year's Qualifying Stage of the OFC Champions League. Photo Credit: OFC Media via Phototek

The coronavirus pandemic has been the main backdrop behind football in 2020.

Nobody has been able to avoid disruption in some capacity around the globe and the impact has been wide-reaching.

As part of OFC Media’s 2020 Review, we will look at what has happened across a range of topics in football throughout the Pacific this year.

Catch our previous stories on women’s football, futsal and beach soccer.

Club football

OFC

Only the qualifying and group stages of the OFC Champions League took place earlier this year before the tournament was postponed and then cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Prior to pool play, Samoa’s Lupe Ole Soaga SC and Tupapa Maraerenga FC earned a spot in the competition proper after finishing in the top two in the Qualifying Stage tournament in Auckland in January.

New Zealand’s Eastern Suburbs won Group A that was held in Papua New Guinea in February, while the hometown Malampa Revivors won Group B in front of their passionate fans in Luganville, Vanuatu.

Magenta topped Group C in New Caledonia, while competition regulars Auckland City FC claimed Group D honours winning all three of their pool games in Tahiti in March.

With no winner declared, OFC’s Executive Committee nominated Auckland City FC to attend the FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar next year as OFC’s representative.

American Samoa

Due to COVID-19 concerns, no football was played in American Samoa this year but they’re eager to return to the field in 2021, pending Government restrictions being lifted.

Cook Islands

Tupapa Maraerenga claimed their 16th men’s national league crown as they won the Round Cup.

Tupapa have won the past four editions of the competition and nine of the previous 11. Puaikura won the national women’s competition and completed the double when they won the national knockout cup title by beating Tupapa Maraerenga’s women’s team 2-0 in the final in December.

Nikao Sokattak won the men’s knockout cup with a 2-1 victory over Tupapa in the final.

Tupapa Maraerenga FC celebrate another national league title. Photo Credit: CIFA Media

Fiji

Suva won the Vodafone Premier League in a tightly contested competition where they edged Rewa on goal difference after both teams finished on 27 points.

Played across 14 rounds, the eight-team league went down to the final week of the competition, but Suva got the job done when they held Nadi to a scoreless draw in their final match.

Rewa managed to claim some silverware this year though as they won the 10-team Battle of the Giants competition in August.

In October, Labasa defended their Inter-District Championship crown with a 2-1 win against Lautoka in the competition’s title decider at ANZ Stadium in Suva.

Fiji’s Football Association Cup Tournament was won by Suva when they beat Nadi 1-0 in the final in December.

In the women’s game, Ba FC retained their Vodafone Women’s Inter-District Championship crown after beating Labasa 2-1 in November.

New Caledonia

New Caledonia’s men’s national league will run into 2021 due to delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Hienghène Sport won their fourth Caledonia Cup title when they defeated SC Ne Drehu 3-1 in November.

New Zealand

New Zealand’s men’s 2019-2020 national league season was called off early due to the coronavirus pandemic and Auckland City FC were declared the champions in March.

No national knockout cup competitions were staged due to COVID-19.

This year’s seven-team ISPS Handa Women’s Premiership began in October and Canterbury United beat Capital Football 4-0 in the final in December.

The 2020-2021 ISPS Handa Men’s Premiership kicked off in November and is scheduled to run through until March. Team Wellington were at the top of the table heading into the Christmas break with the league set to resume on January 9.

In December, New Zealand Football announced major changes to their men’s and women’s national leagues that will kick in next year. More information can be found here.

Papua New Guinea

Lae City FC made it six straight titles on the bounce as they claimed the 2019-2020 Kumul Petroleum National Soccer League in October.

The league experienced a lengthy delay during the year due to the coronavirus pandemic but Lae beat Vitiaz United FC 1-0 in the competition’s decider.

The new Women’s National Soccer League was launched in December with 14 teams taking part; the competition is scheduled to conclude in February.

Action from a women’s national league game between Hekari United and Amoana FC. Photo Credit: PNGFA Media

Samoa

Lupe Ole Soaga SC completed the national league double with their men’s and women’s teams claiming their respective titles.

Solomon Islands

The inaugural Solrais Women’s Premier League was held in the Solomons this year and the RSIP Royals emerged as the champions.

The eight-team competition was lauded a success in a country that is continuing to grow the women’s game.

The 2020-2021 S-League expanded to 11 teams and began in August. The Henderson Eels are at the top of the ladder heading into Christmas.

Western Tomoko won the Solomon Cup in December when they beat defending champions the Malaita Eagles 1-0 in the final. The event is a knockout tournament that is contested by the nine provinces in the Solomon Islands.

Tahiti

The 2019-2020 men’s Ligue 1 season was suspended in March due to the pandemic and in May it was declared that competition leaders Pirae would be awarded the title, marking the ninth time they had claimed national honours.

The 2019-2020 Tahiti Cup was also cancelled due to coronavirus.

The 2020-2021 Ligue 1 season got underway in October but was placed on hold in November due to COVID-19 restrictions. Dragon were leading the league when the stoppage began.

The national women’s league began recently but was also placed on hold; at the time of the suspension, Tefana were at the top of the table.

As of late December, all football remained on hold in Tahiti and was scheduled to resume no earlier than January 23.

Tonga

The Tonga Major League was cancelled due to the pandemic, but a Challenge Cup was played across the country.

The tournament included men’s, women’s and youth divisions to ensure as many players as possible got a chance to play some football this year.

The Tonga Major League is on track to return next year.

Vanuatu

Galaxy FC won the 2020 VFF National Super League after beating Luganville’s Malampa Revivors 5-0 in the final in November.

The 2020-2021 Port Vila Premier League began in mid-November.

Ends

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