2008 O-LEAGUE PREVIEW
The second edition of the O-League gets underway this weekend with matches kicking off in two countries involving a team each from Fiji, New Zealand, Solomon
Islands and Vanuatu. OFC Media takes a closer look at the clubs and their squads that will contest the 2008 O-League competition as the race to qualify for the FIFA Club World Cup prepares to
In Group A, Auckland City and Waitakere United – the two New Zealand clubs – will once again start as red-hot favourites with both clubs having already won an OFC
Club title once previously. AS Manu Ura face an uphill battle to qualify from this group with the two Kiwi teams heavily fancied to win the O-League
outright. Tahitian football suffered a disappointing XIII South Pacific Games, however, Manu Ura have enjoyed a great start to their domestic season and could spring a surprise.
Group B is wide open with Solomon Islands champions Kossa FC making their debut in the O-League. Last season’s runners-up, Ba, have lost players from the squad
that took them to the final, but can still draw on a raft of international quality players. Tafea FC will be the outside bet to qualify from this section with most of their squad drawn from the
Vanuatu international team that earned a bronze medal at the XIII South Pacific Games – Samoa 2007.
AS MANU URA – TAHITI
AS Manu Ura have made a bright start to the defence of their Division Federale championship with two wins and a draw in the opening
three weeks of the league race in Tahiti.
Tahiti international goalkeepers Daniel Tapeta and Jonathan Torohia will fight it out for the number one jersey at club
level. Tapeta and Torohia were both part of Tahiti’s failed XIII South Pacific Games/FIFA World Cup Qualifying – Samoa 2007 bid in August/September and both will be out to taste some success after
a torrid time in Samoa.
Prolific striker, Billy Mataitai, will be relied upon to score the goals that will lift his club out of a difficult group with his
exploits at XIII South Pacific Games – Samoa 2007 and OFC Beach Soccer Championship sure to add to his already notable levels of experience.
Auguste Washetine is another name familiar to XIII South Pacific Games – Samoa 2007 observers. The muscular and bustling striker will
join international team-mate Mataitai in the search for O-League goals and defenders will be mindful of Washetine’s physical approach and eye for goal.
AS MANU URA: Daniel TAPETA; Jonathan TOROHIA; Rex FAURA; Jean Paul FAURA; Hiashi KAKE; Jean-Yves LY WAUT; Billy
MATAITAI; Phillipe MORETTA; Hiroana POROIAE; Dave PENI; Adrien TAERO; Henri TAPEA; Temarama TAUIHARA; Tamatoa TAUIHARA; Vetea TEPA; Vetea TETUANUI; Stephane TUAIRAU; Auguste WASHETINE; Andrew
TAURU; Celestin TAUPUA; Taia HONG; Eddy PITO; Axel TEMATAUA; Nohoarii ROBSON; Gregory LANTEIRIES; Rooarii ROO.
Coach: Teivitau PITO
Assistant Coach: Vaio ANANIA
Assistant Coach: Felix TAUMIHAU
AS Manu Ura are making their debut in the OFC O-League competition after securing the Tahiti Division Federale at the expense of AS
AS Manu Ura sit atop the Tahiti Division Federale unbeaten after three rounds and have progressed to the quarter-finals of the 2008 FTF
Coupe de Polynesia Francaise.
AUCKLAND CITY FC – NEW ZEALAND
Former O-League champions Auckland City begin their campaign under the tutelage of new coach Colin Tuaa.
Tuaa – a former New Zealand international striker and coach of the New Zealand team that played at the FIFA U-17 World Cup – has made a
raft of new signings designed to wage simultaneous campaigns both domestically and on the Oceania front. City’s
main transfer coup is 33-year-old former Republic of Korea international Ki-Hyung Lee.
Lee represented Korea forty seven times since 1997, scoring three goals. He has also represented his country at youth and Olympic
levels. Lee played two hundred and fifty seven K-League matches scoring twenty three goals and is certain to add
glamour and class to the 2008 O-League.
The classy midfielder was part of the powerful club side Suwon Samsung that won back-to-back K-League titles in 1998 and 1999 and won
the championship again in 2003 representing Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma.
City’s other new signings read like a who’s who of Oceania international football with New Zealand’s Rupesh Puna, Craig Wylie and Jeff
Campbell joined by Solomon Islands pair of George Suri and Henry Fa’arodo.
Fiji international midfielder Salesh Kumar joins the throng with Northern League goal-getter Eliezer Anello making the step
up after a bountiful season with Three Kings United.
Ben SIGMUND; 6. Ki-Hyung LEE; 7. James PRITCHETT; 8. Chad COOMBES; 9. Paul URLOVIC; 10. Grant YOUNG; 11. Luiz DEL MONTE; 12. Tamati WILLIAMS; 13. Alex FENERIDIS; 14. Keryn JORDAN; 15. Jeff
CAMPBELL; 16. George SURI; 17. Bryan LITTLE; 18. Henry FA’ARODO; 19. Salesh KUMAR; 20. Greg UHLMANN; 21. Riki VAN STEEDEN; 22.. Sam MATHEWS; 23. Eliezer ANELLO; 24. Sam CAMPBELL; 25. Jake MATHEWS;
26. Rupesh PUNA; 27. John NIYONSABA; 28. Liam MULROONEY; 29. Lance HESLOP; 30. Mark FULCHER.
Coach: Colin TUAA
Assistant Coach: Clive CAMPBELL
GK Coach: Miroslav NIKOLIC
Manager: David STRINGER
Auckland City first competed in the OFC Club Championship – Tahiti 2005 where they were eliminated at the
group stage by Sydney FC (AUS) and AS Pirae (TAH). Auckland City FC was crowned OFC club champions in 2006 after a 3-1 win over AS Pirae (TAH) at North Harbour Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand and
went on to represent OFC at the FIFA Club World Cup – Japan 2006 losing 0-2 to Al-Ahly (CAF) and 0-3 to Jeonbuk Motors (AFC). Auckland City were eliminated at the group stage of the 2006/07
O-League on goal difference after draws with eventual champions Waitakere United (NZL) and two wins (2-0) and (4-0) over AS Mont Dore (NCL).
Auckland City has yet to begin their pursuit of a record fourth NZFC title in a row.
BA – FIJI
Ba has suffered for recent success both on the domestic and international stage with many of its star players the subject of transfer
speculation and activity since last season’s competition. Peni Finau, Ronil Kumar and Osea Vakatalesau have either
relocated to New Zealand or are rumoured to be on the verge of doing so, and a recent 3-0 defeat at the hands of Labasa in the Fiji FA New World National League has left many observers
wondering if Ba’s long running domination of domestic football is coming to a close.
Coach Yogendra Dutt will refute such suggestions and can point to a squad brimming with ability and experience. Captain and goalkeeper
Laisenia Tuba is joined by Fiji internationals Shalen Lal, Avinesh Swamy, Josaia Bukalidi, Malakai Tiwa, Malakai Kainihewe, and Jone Vesikula, with the reliable presence of Keni Doidoi, Robert Wise
and Tuimasi Manuca offering further O-League experience to the mix.
Ba’s main advantage is their experience of playing in last year’s final after winning through in a tough group that included AS Temanava
(TAH) and Marist FC (SOL). The Fijian champions will have to be at their absolute best to replicate the feat with Tafea FC (VAN) and Kossa FC (SOL) both considered clubs on the
Ba’s three home matches drew nearly 25,000 fans in Fiji and 7000 fans in New Zealand for the 2007 O-League Final, 2nd
BA: 1. Laisenia TUBA; 2. Avinesh SWAMY; 3. Shalen LAL; 4. Manoa MASI; 5. Rinal PRASAD; 6. Jone VESIKULA; 7. Tuimasi
MANUCA; 8. Keni DOIDOI; 9. Josaia BUKALIDI; 10. Ronald CHANDRA; 11. Robert WISE; 12. Peni FINAU; 13. Kiniviliame TURAGALAILAI; 14. Luke VIDOVI; 15. Osea VAKATALESAU; 16. Malakai TIWA; 17. Malakai
KAINIHEWE; 18. Semesa DOIDOI; 19. Leone VURUKANIA; 20. Niumaia TAGI; 21. Jone SOROLO; 22. Epeli CODRO; 23. Krishna SAMI.
Coach: Yogendra DUTT
Manager: Lilian KHAN
Ba finished runners-up in the 2006/07 O-League after losing on the away goals rule to Waitakere United (NZL) in last season’s two-legged
final. Ba won through after triumphing in Group B against Marist FC (SOL) and AS Temanava (TAH). 2007 –
Ba have won five domestic competitions in the past calendar year including Battle of the Giants, Inter-District Cup, Fiji FACT, New
World National League and Champion of Champions. However, recent results have gone against Ba, including a 3-0 defeat by Labasa in the National League.
KOSSA FC – SOLOMON ISLANDS
The sense of disappointment and sadness after Solomon Islands performance at the XIII South Pacific Games – Samoa 2007 has left a gaping
hole in the international football calendar for fans of the game in the island nation.
Kossa FC will carry the hopes of not only their club, but the entire football-mad nation, as Solomon Islands seek to restore its
reputation as a football powerhouse in the South Pacific.
Coach Jacob Moli has acted fast to ensure Kossa FC don’t underachieve
as Marist FC did last season by signing Papua New Guinea
international and former Auckland City striker Reginald Davani. Davani joins two more foreign imports in the shape of Fiji pair Inosi Cawaanikawai and Akariva Daunatou.
FIFA Beach Soccer heroes Joe Luwi and James Naka make the move to Kossa FC from Marist FC with international defenders Gideon Omokirio
and the athletic Samson Takayama shoring up the defence.
KOSSA FC: John MORGAN; Severino AEFI; Michael MAENUU; Gideon OMOKIRIO; Samson TAKAYAMA; Terry OIAKA; Eddie KAIRI;
Kenneth RIHANUA; Sam MAENA; Ken TONGA; Seni NGAVA; Royal EPA; Joe LUWI; Mahlon MAEMANIA; Franco NEE; James NAKA; Philip ASHLEY; Paul WALE; Desmond SALA; Samson WAAHERO; Willie SADE; Jeffrey KONAI;
Reginald DAVANI; Solomon TAHI; Roy ENORI; Tome FAISI; Alwyn DANITOFEA; Willie NAMO; Inosi CAWAANIKAWAI; Akariva DAUNATOU.
Coach: Jacob MOLI
Assistant Coach: Moses TOATA
Manager: Willie LAI
Kossa FC won through to the 2008 O-League after winning the National Clubs Championship at the expense of defending O-League
representatives Marist FC earlier this year, ending Marist FC’s two year association with Oceania’s premier club competition, if only for the present time.
Kossa FC currently sit in 5th place in the DJ League but qualified for the 2008 O-League after winning the National Clubs
Championship earlier this year.
TAFEA FC – VANUATU
Vanuatu football is enjoying a high at present with the international team securing an OFC Nations Cup/FIFA World Cup South
Africa Qualifier Stage 2 berth on the back of their sensational XIII South Pacific Games – Samoa 2007 bronze medal efforts in Apia in August.
The national U-12 selection won the OFC U-12 Festival of Football – Papua New Guinea 2007 and later finished 19th out of 32
at the Danone Nations Cup in France proving the popularity of football in the country is in good health.
Add to that Tafea FC’s comprehensive victory in the OFC O-League Preliminary qualifying competition over University FC and JS Baco and
it is little wonder the club’s inclusion in the O-League is promoting great excitement in Port Vila.
The bulk of the Tafea FC squad have represented Vanuatu at age-group or full international level with veteran goalkeeper David
Chilia(above) best remembered for his heroics three years ago when Vanuatu defeated New Zealand’s All Whites 4-2 in Adelaide, and an equally impressive display when Tafea FC elminated Napier City
Rovers at the OFC Club Championship in 2000.
Dynamic midfield maestro Francois Sakama will be the dangerman for Tafea FC with his eye-catching performances at the XIII South Pacific
Games – Samoa 2007 still fresh in the memory.
Sakama’s stunning right foot volley from 18 yards out against Solomon Islands in the Bronze Medal match won plaudits for goal of the
tournament and will ensure he is watched carefully by opposition goalkeepers.
Tafea FC play Solomon Islands club Makuru FC as preparation for their opening match against Kossa FC in Honiara.
TAFEA FC: 1. David CHILIA; 2. Samson OBED; 3. Jacques MAFIL NAWAN; 4. Ephraim KALORIB; 5. Tom MANSES; 6. Fedy VAVA; 7.
Moise POIDA; 8. Pita David MAKI; 9. Jean Nako NAPRAPOL; 10. Richard IWAI; 11. Etienne MERMER; 12. Hubert NAKE; 13. Francois SAKAMA; 14. Waren Roger WAIWAI; 15. Ali SILAS; 16. Alphonse Welin QORIG;
17. Geoffrey Lego GETE; 18. Silas NAMATAK; 19. Lorry THOMPSEN; 20. Alista KALIP; 21. Jason AVOCK; 22. Shem SIPAI; 23. Talom IARUELI; 24. Timothy JOB; 25. Titus NOAL; 26. Andrew
Coach: Michel KALO
Assistant Coach: Joseph Matou SOANI
Manager: Stephen FELIX
Tafea FC qualified for the 2008 O-League after winning the OFC O-League Preliminary competition in New Caledonia in May, defeating
University FC (PNG) and JS Baco (NCL) in a three team tournament. Tafea FC’s best finish at this level was in 2000-01 when they lost the final of the OFC Club Championship to Wollongong Wolves by
1999 – First Round
2001 – Runners-up
2005 – Third
2006 – First Round
2007 – Did not compete
Tafea FC have won the VFF National League title 13 times in a row since 1994 and are without doubt the strongest club in Vanuatu on and
off the pitch.
WAITAKERE UNITED – NEW ZEALAND
The defending O-League champions have added a new coach and new players in a bid to retain the O-League title. Chris Milicich takes over
from Steve Cain in the dugout and is joined by former Wolves defender and new player/coach, Neil Emblen. Aware
Waitakere United face a daunting playoff match with the winners of the Japanese J-League in a FIFA Club World Cup Qualifier in December, Milicich has given the Waitakere squad an
Goalkeeper Richard Gillespie, Jason Hayne, Neil Sykes and Jonathan Perry make the move out West from NZFC champions Auckland City and
are joined by former New Zealand Knights players Darren Bazeley and Neil Emblen, adding a wealth of steal and experience to the squad.Solomon Island international Benjamin Totori left Youngheart Manawatu during the winter to take up the chance for a shot at FIFA Club
World Cup – Japan 2007 glory and is joined by nuggety Fiji international midfield man Ronil Kumar.
Commins Menapi has been deemed Waitakere United’s “marquee” signing with the Solomon Islands skipper charged once again with firing home
the goals that could propel Milicich’s club to an O-League title defence.
WAITAKERE UNITED: 1. Richard GILLESPIE; 2. Jonathan PERRY; 3.Shane PASCOE; 4. Matt CUNNEEN; 5. Danny HAY; 6. Darren
BAZELEY; 7. Jason HAYNE; 8. Commins MENAPI; 9. Benjamin TOTORI; 10. Allan PEARCE; 11. Neil SYKES; 13. Daniel KOPRIVCIC; 14. Hoani EDWARDS; 15. Christopher BALE; 16. Neil EMBLEN; 17. Jake BUTLER;
18. Ronil KUMAR; 19. Mikael MUNDAY; 20. Jason ROWLEY; 21. Graham PEARCE; 22. Simon EADDY; 23. Blair KONICK; 24. Tim MYERS; 25. Leo SHIN; 26. Byron PAULUS; 27. Tom WEBB; 28. Aaran ROWLEY; 29. Denver
MacDONALD; 30. Peter NORRIS; 31. Sean DOWLING.
Coach: Chris MILICICH
Player/Coach: Neil EMBLEN
Waitakere United’s debut season saw the West Auckland club win the inaugural O-League at the first time of asking. United – included
because of the withdrawal of Vanuatu’s club champions – were drawn in Group A against fellow Kiwis Auckland City and AS Mont Dore (NCL). 2007 – Champions
Waitakere United have yet to begin their NZFC campaign. Ironically, despite winning the O-League, Waitakere United have yet to win the
NZFC title outright, although they did finish top of the NZFC minor premiership last season.