Oceania Football Confederation > News > OFC Champions League 2013 > Auckland book semi berth with Dragon draw

Auckland book semi berth with Dragon draw

In the other match in the final round of the competition’s pool stages, Waitakere earned a 3-2 win over New Caledonia’s Mont-Dore in Noumea to ensure they would finish at the top of the ladder and take some momentum into the looming semi-finals.
Waitakere will now go on to meet Vanuatu outfit Amicale in the semi-finals while Auckland will face Fijian side Ba – the only undefeated team in the competition.
Due to the significance of the encounter, this evening’s match between Dragon and Auckland was the highlight of the season so far and it lived up to those expectations with both sides putting in hugely committed performances. A place in the semi-finals was on offer to whichever team emerged triumphant and the victorious coach was hugely relieved to have earned the required result.
“That was without doubt one of the hardest games this club has played in an Oceania football competition,” Auckland’s Ramon Tribulietx said. “When the final whistle went there was elation and happiness because it was such a hard match for us. Dragon are a fantastic team but our players have played these kinds of games before and know how to avoid making mistakes, especially in the last minutes.”
Needing at least a point to keep their hopes of defending their title alive, City got off to the worst possible start when Teaonui Tehau headed home a Raimana Li Fung Kuee free kick in just the fifth minute to put Dragon on course to qualify for the knockout stages in their debut season at this level. Dragon went on to control the rest of the half on their home patch but Auckland were not about the loosen their grip on the trophy without a fight and equalised with one of their only chances of the half, top scorer and golden boot contender Adam Dickinson playing in Spanish striker Manel Exposito for his fourth goal of the campaign six minutes before the interval.
In a tense and physical second half, Dragon came closest to winning the match when Li Fung Kuee thundered a header into the Auckland cross bar with five minutes remaining. But they couldn’t score the goal they so desperately needed and a frustrating night for coach Ludovic Graugnard was fittingly capped off in injury time as Steevy Chong Hue was dismissed by Fijian referee Rakesh Varman in injury time.
“We have played some good football over the six games and deserve to be in the semi-finals but don’t have enough points to go through,” Graugnard said. “Nevertheless, I am proud of the players. They have shown a good image of Tahitian football. The New Zealand teams now know the quality of football from the islands and will be more careful when they play us.”
The day’s other Group B match had less riding on it but was important regardless as Waitakere still needed a win to make sure of first place and earn the advantage of playing the second-placed Group A team in the semi-finals.
In contrast to neighbours Auckland, Waitakere enjoyed the perfect start in their quest to top the group as English import Chris Palmer found the net in the opening minute to give his side a very early lead. But Mont-Dore, who were desperate for a positive result after picking up only one point from their entire campaign, managed to find a way back into the game when Loic Bessieres struck on 36 minutes to send the teams into the sheds at 1-1.
The hosts found themselves behind again shortly after the break though when Solomon Islands referee Gerald Oiaka pointed to the spot and Palmer stepped up to slot home his second goal of the afternoon and his third of the season. But Mont-Dore again refused to lie down and equalised for the second time through New Caledonia U-20 international Jean-Pierre Bob on 66 minutes.
Waitakere were not to be denied though and finally put Mont-Dore’s spirited challenge to bed when Ryan De Vries produced what proved to be the winner in the 78th minute with a goal later described as world-class by coach Paul Marshall.
The feat of Marshall’s men in scoring three times away from home was made even more impressive by the fact that key attackers Roy Krishna and Allan Pearce were unavailable due to suspension while defender Brian Shelley was out through injury.
“We were missing a few players tonight but we have a deep squad and were still able to get the job done,” Marshall said. “I think everyone was a bit confused about Mont-Dore after Auckland beat them 12-2 as the reality is that they have only had one bad half in six games – the second half of that Auckland match was only 3-2. They are a very competitive side and it was a tough game. It is a fantastic effort to come out on the top of the group when you consider the start we had to the season.”
The first legs of the home-and-away semi-finals will take place this weekend with Waitakere travelling to Amicale and Auckland hosting Ba.

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