The Super Ligue winners will look to New Caledonia captain Pierre Wajoka for inspiration tomorrow while drawing on home support at the 10,000-seater Stade Numa Daly.
Wajoka is the midfield mainstay of the national team and claimed a little piece of history by scoring the first ever goal in the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ qualification process with a penalty against rivals Tahiti at the XIII South Pacific Games on August 25, 2007. “Les Cagous” went on to win gold at the tournament and finished runners-up behind New Zealand in the 2008 OFC Nations Cup.
Waitakere United manager Neil Emblen is well aware of the danger Wajoka can cause and says his side will need to be on guard in defense.
“Pierre is a classy player and put in impressive performances against New Zealand last year during the World Cup qualifiers,” said Emblen.
“Magenta also have a number of other former and current internationals so we’re expecting a competitive match.”
Emblen would himself be the stalwart of United’s defense but a carry-over suspension has ruled him out. The English-born manager, who takes over from Chris Milicich, believes it won’t be such a bad thing to miss tomorrow’s game.
“Obviously I’d love to be playing but this way I have the opportunity to be coach rather than player-coach for the opening match and I can make a good assessment of the team from the sideline.”
Emblen has most of his 30-strong squad available for selection but is without his three New Zealand U-17 players Jack Hobson, Zane Sole and Tim Pilkington who are preparing for kick-off in the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Nigeria this weekend. Assistant coach Darren Bazeley is also in Nigeria leaving Carl Jorgensen as Emblen’s assistant in Noumea.
Star strikers Benjamin Totori and Roy Krishna, both with three O-League goals to date, are likely to provide problems for the AS Magenta defense while former Wellington Phoenix and New Zealand player Jeremy Christie will marshal the midfield.
Meanwhile AS Magenta will be led in defense by experienced campaigner Benjamin Longue who is one of a long line of New Caledonian-born players to have made an appearance in French Ligue 1. The 28-year-old tough-tackling defender played for Bastia in France before returning home to star for AS Magenta. Longue opted for a premature retirement from international football following the end of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ qualification trail.
AS Magenta have never appeared in the O-League but did reach the final of the previous incarnation of the Oceania competition in 2005. They are five-time champions of their domestic league and have won the ‘Coupe de Calédonie’ seven times. The last New Caledonian club side to appear in the O-League was AS Mont Dore in the inaugural 2007 season with a 6th place finish. Waitakere United have won the O-League title on two occasions in 2007 and 2008.
AS Magenta [NCL] vs. Waitakere United [NZL]
Saturday 24 October 2009
Stade Numa Daly
Noumea, New Caledonia
Local kick-off: 16H00
Referee: Norbert HAUATA [TAH]
Assistant Referee 1: Didier HMUZO [NCL]
Assistant Referee 2: Mahit CHILIA [VAN]
Fourth Official: Isidore ASSIENE-AMBASSA [NCL]
AS Magenta: 1. Jean Yan DOUNEZECK [GK], 2. Benjamin LONGUE, 3. Jeremie DOKUNENGO, 4. Emmanuel DIANAI, 6. Jedidja SAIKO, 7. Noel KAUDRE, 9. Paul POATINDA, 10. Pierre WAJOKA, 12. Poulidor TOTO, 14. Jules WEA, 17. Andre SINEDO, 18. Jean Chrys XENIE, 24. Lamo XEWE, 25. Joris GORENDIAWE, 26. Fabrice WACAPO, 27. Cedrickson CARIOU, 32. Ludovic BOIT, 33. Philippe KOKONE
Waitakere United: 1. Danny ROBINSON [GK], 2. Jason ROWLEY, 3. Aaron SCOTT, 4. Tim MYERS, 5. Ash SOLLY, 7. Martin BULLOCK, 8. Brent FISHER, 9. Benjamin TOTORI, 10. Allan PEARCE, 11. Neil SYKES, 12. Roy KRISHNA, 13. Dimas MORALES DA SILVA, 14. Jeremy CHRISTIE, 15. Craig WILIE, 17. Jake BUTLER, 20. Ryan DE VRIES, 22. Liam LITTLE [GK], 27. Dan JONES
2010 O-League standings & results, click here
2010 O-League – Leading goal scorers
3 – Daniel KOPRIVCIC
1 – Nahuel ARRART
1 – Chad COOMBES
1 – Kamal HASSAN
1 – Abraham INIGA
1 – Kema JACK
1 – Samuela KAUTOGA
1 – Benjamin MELA
1 – Tuimasi MANUCA
1 – Silas NAMATAK
1 – François SAKAMA
1 – Robert TOM