Oceania Football Confederation > News > OFC Champions League Preliminary 2014 > Favourites frightened but triumph in the end

Favourites frightened but triumph in the end

The OFC Champions League continued at Pago Park Soccer Stadium in Pago Pago, American Samoa today with both matches providing plenty of excitement for the local crowd.
The day kicked off in surprising fashion as Lotoha’apai United of Tonga got the scoring underway early against the favoured Samoan club champions.
While Kiwi coach Martin Tamasese was confident ahead of the match, he was also careful not to underestimate a side which beat Kiwi 2-1 in the 2012 edition of the tournament.
“As I mentioned yesterday Tonga is not an easy team and now we know that it was a tough game,” Tamasese says.
“Getting two goals for Tonga is all because of our backline – we didn’t play and didn’t communicate properly with our goalkeeper properly.”
After Lafaele Moala opened the scoring ten minutes into the match Kiwi rallied quickly and found an equaliser two minutes later through Jaime Mason. Lotoha’apai United took the lead once again after three minutes leaving Kiwi on the back-foot.
The Samoan side finally got the break they were looking for when Adam Cowan found the back of the net with just over ten minutes remaining in the half.
Tamasese’s pep-talk at the break must have worked as Kiwi threw everything they had at the Tongan side. Lotoha’apai weren’t interested in rolling over and letting their neighbours walk all over them, putting up a fierce fight which unfortunately didn’t pay off. Kiwi scored twice in quick succession – a second for Cowan and one for Joseph Gaughan – which only fired Lotoha’apai up.
Putting their bodies on the line as they tried to battle their way back into the match Lotoha’apai found themselves down to ten men after Toupou Uhatahi received a second caution from referee Isaac Trevis. Two Kiwi players received cards during the same incident.
With just second remaining in the match Toupou Uhatahi was joined by his brother Sione after bringing a Kiwi player down in what was a clear goal scoring opportunity. Lotoha’apai played out the remaining seconds of the match with nine men, and those players will no longer be available for Saturday’s match.
Lotoha’apai United coach Lui Muavesi, who had a stand-out match in defence today, was disappointed his side couldn’t capitalise on their early advantage.
“I’m glad the game is finished, Samoa deserved to win today they were the better team today. We managed to score two goals but in the end the boys just couldn’t go according to our game plan,” Muavesi says.
“This is football. Don’t ever think you can score two goals and relax – they will come back.”
In the second match of the day it was once again the favoured side going behind early as Pago Youth’s Gun Kang slotted home in the first minute of the match against Tupapa Maraerenga.
Tupapa were clearly shocked to find themselves on the chase especially so early on in the match. It took a goal from Byron Paulus to bring Tupapa in line 17 minutes into the game and despite their best efforts it wasn’t until the last additional minute of the match that they managed to take the lead through a Campbell Best strike.
After the break things started to fall apart for the host side Pago Youth while Tupapa finally started to find their feet.
A penalty in the 50 minute of the match was converted by Geoffrey Strickland before Sam Margetts got the first of his four goals of the afternoon five minutes later.
It was at the hour mark when Ryan Samuelu received two quick yellows that resulted in a second penalty for Tupapa, finished by Margetts, and a red card for Samuelu.
A man down against a side gunning for victory the match started to slip further and further from Pago’s reach. Ruben Luvu was then sent from the field of play following a second caution and Tupapa made full use of their man advantage.
Margetts scored two more fine goals while Rhys Ruka, Branden Turepu and Grover Harmon all added their names to the list of scorers, taking the match to 11-1.
Victorious coach Delaney Yaqona says his side got what they came for in the end, but it wasn’t easy.
“It was an ugly game but the win’s the win, it’s what we needed, we got the goals that we needed,” he says.
“I think it was a bit of fatigue – I think a lot of people can’t see how much it takes out of the players playing in heat like this. They had a real slow start, yes it was uncharacteristic, but like I said to our captain, it can happen to anyone. It was just a missed pass and someone scores.
“I’m proud of the boys for digging in and finally getting the goals in the end.”
For defeated Pago Youth coach Ailao Tualaulelei it was an incredibly disappointing afternoon for him and his side.
“I think that we celebrated too early. I had to remind my team that there were about 80 minutes left in the game,” Tualaulelei says.
“I give credit to my team as they fought really hard – but Cook Islands are also a really good team – my boys tried their best.”
The OFC Champions League Preliminary continues on Saturday, 19 October at Pago Park Soccer Stadium with Match Day 3 of the competition set to reveal the side which will qualify for the group stage of the OFC Champions League.
At 12pm (local) Pago Youth will take on Lotoha’apai United in the battle for the bottom, while the 3pm (local) match will see Tupapa Maraerenga take on Kiwi in the day’s headliner.
To see the Competition Summary for the tournament so far click here

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