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OFC Champions League Preliminary dates set

The four-team tournament takes place in Pago Pago, American Samoa, from October 15-19, 2013.
The host nation is represented by Pago Youth who make their second appearance on the Oceania preliminary stage and looking to improve on last season’s fourth place finish in Tonga.
OFC Head of Competitions David Firisua expressed pride ahead of the tournament.
“We’re proud to see the third edition of this event because of the value it provides for clubs across the region. It is now an open tournament of 29 matches that includes the entire confederation with matches being played from American Samoa to Fiji to New Zealand.
“As we saw last season, Tupapa Maraerenga pushed AS Mont Dore closely and proves that a clear, competitive, pathway to the top gives clubs a clear incentive to raise the bar,” Firisua says.
Tupapa Maraerenga shape as favourites to advance to the OFC Champions League group stage proper with old stagers Lotoa’hapai United looming as their biggest threat.
Lotoa’hapai United competed in the final stages of the 1999 and 2001 OFC Club Championships in Fiji and Papua New Guinea but missed out on the play-off match last season after finishing second to Tupapa Maraerenga on goal difference.
Samoa’s club champions Kiwi make up the quartet and will target improvement on their third place finish in the last edition when they notched their first ever victory at this level beating Pago Youth 5-1. Kiwi has competed in the final stages of an Oceania club tournament just once back in 1999 when they lost both their group matches to Nadi and AS Venus.
The two previous editions of the OFC Champions League Preliminary competition saw Vanuatu champions Tafea FC qualify for the competition proper in 2007-08, while AS Mont Dore of New Caledonia won last season’s tournament in a play-off with a 3-1 victory over Tupapa Maraerenga to advance to the group stages.
No team from American Samoa, Cook Islands, Tonga or Samoa has qualified for the latter stages of the OFC Champions League since 2001 when Tonga’s Lotoa’hapai, Samoa’s Titavi FC, Cook Islands Tupapa Maraerenga and PanSa of American Samoa participated in the OFC Club Championship in Port Moresby in 2001.
The winner of the round-robin tournament qualifies for the OFC Champions League group stage scheduled for Fiji in April 2014.


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