Seven moments that mattered

1. Waitakere United 1-1 Solomon Warriors: Costly keeping error punishes Warriors
That Waitakere United were able to carry their semi-final hopes through to the last match is due largely to a last minute goalkeeper error by Solomon Warriors stopper Silas Seda.
The Warriors started the day three points behind their opponents and desperate for a win to stay alive but were frustrated by a strong Waitakere defence despite playing some of the best attacking football of the tournament.
That indicates just how crucial Seda’s unfortunate error against Waitakere was. A point would have been enough to keep Waitakere in control but they gifted their opponents a goal when James Naka curled a magnificent shot beyond Danny Robinson on 45 minutes.
It was a costly goal to concede and disrupted Waitakere’s momentum, having won their previous game 2-0 over Kiwi FC. A 1-0 win would’ve handed the Warriors an excellent shot at the last four with Kiwi FC left to play but they endured a frenetic second half of pressure by the New Zealanders whose title hopes were rescued when Seda – who had a sterling match throughout – bundled the ball into the back of his own net after mishandling a Joel Stevens cross.
What they said:
“I’m pleased we showed the character to get the goal I thought we deserved and we at least got something from the game to keep us fighting in the competition.” – Paul Temple, Waitakere United coach
2. Hekari United 2-2 AS Magenta: Draw ends hopes
Jerry Allen boasted a proud record of winning the OFC Champions League with Hekari United in 2010 but his side’s inability to see off AS Magenta at the group stage perhaps proved the most damaging to Hekari’s hopes of winning the title. The seven-in-a-row Papua New Guinea champs went into the game against elimination-threatened Magenta with the chance to knock Tafea off second place, but they were undone by a catalogue of missed chances and errors.
The most telling blow for Hekari was the loss of goalkeeper Leslie Kalai who was sensationally sent off for handling the ball outside his penalty area late in the first half. But Allen’s team responded with a stirring rear-guard action. Twice Hekari led through Nigel Dabingyaba and Nicholas Muri yet twice Magenta came back through Bertrand Kai and Pierre Wajoka. The result left both clubs hopes’ dangling precariously going into the final match day, a hope that would be dashed for both anyway.
What they said:
“That wasn’t the result that we wanted and I’m incredibly disappointed by it. The result was disappointing, as well as the manner in which we got it. We showed a lot of naivety for the two goals and at this level we don’t have that right.” – Alain Moizan, AS Magenta coach
“Our team played their best football because we were one player down. Even though we had 10 men we managed to come back and score a goal, but unfortunately so did they.” – Jerry Allen, Hekari United coach
3. Amicale 1-0 Auckland City FC: Warning signal goes up
It may seem strange to relate now, but the start of the campaign had gone reasonably well for Auckland City FC. The defending champions won their first two games and sat top of the table after their first match a fiery 3-0 win over host-club Nadi.
But the first real warning that Auckland City FC might be under serious pressure came in their final group match as they were beaten 1-0 by rivals Amicale who sent out a strong message about their own title-winning credentials. The defending champions now have one win, one draw and two defeats in their last four games in this competition.
What they said:
“It was a gutsy match, the boys gave it everything they’ve got. As you can see they’ve got no energy left in their tank. I’m really proud, really happy and delighted that we can play a home semi in Vanuatu.” – Nathan Hall, Amicale coach.
“It’s the third game we’ve played this week and Amicale are a very good rival. What can we do? I think the game’s been very competitive and it’s gone Amicale’s way and we have to congratulate them.” – Ramon Tribulietx, Auckland City FC coach
4. AS Pirae 3-1 Waitakere United: Red and Whites blitzed
Just two wins from eight competitive games made February to April months to forget for Waitakere United, but there was one result that marked the beginning of the end of their title challenge and underlined AS Pirae’s own credentials as genuine contenders.
Paul Temple’s side needed a solitary point to scrape through to the last four, Gerard Kautai’s already there courtesy of two convincing victories. A draw would see Waitakere into the semi-finals for the second season on the trot and at the same time eliminate Auckland City FC at the group stage for the first time in four years. Those hopes were swept away as AS Pirae tore Waitakere apart inside the first 20, mesmerising, minutes.
Naea Bennett and Raimana Li Fung Kuee hit the target for a rampant AS Pirae side that ultimately won 3-1 to strip Waitakere of any hopes of reaching the final. The victory launched AS Pirae into the last four for the first time since 2006 and booked Auckland City FC’s semi-final spot via a side door as the best placed runner-up in the group stage.
What they said:
“I’m very happy to be through to the semi-finals, we started the match well, and we scored quickly before getting another relatively early. We took a red card which was annoying but congratulations to the boys, and all the staff because it really has been a team effort.” – Samuel Garcia, AS Pirae assistant coach
“I’m not sure how we lost 3-1. We had lots of chances and unfortunately we couldn’t take them but I couldn’t be prouder of the boys, they put in loads of effort, they created lots of chances but we couldn’t get the luck that we needed.” – Paul Temple, Waitakere United coach.
5. Ba 1-2 Amicale: Goals, goals and fine margins
Amicale scored 11 goals in the OFC Champions League this season – including six against Nadi FC and two in two matches with Auckland City FC. But just as important was their ability – as boss Nathan Hall described it – to show “trust in our players” after they came from behind to beat Ba 2-1 in the semi-final first leg at Govind Park. The win highlighted Amicale’s ability to grind out results at crucial times, as well as emphasising the quality of their attacking strength in depth, with Kensi Tangis, Jack Wetney, Dominique Fred or Francois Sakama able to combine with Nikola Vasilic anywhere in the Amicale attacking frontline. Such adaptability showed the importance of Amicale’s comfort in dealing in fine margins.
What they said:
“I think Auckland City will find it hard here but they’re a good team and we respect them but we don’t fear them. We know if we play well that we can beat any team in this region and we need to ensure that we do that and try and have some advantage leading into the return leg in Auckland.” – Nathan Hall, Amicale coach.
6. AS Pirae 2-1 Auckland City FC: The Vahirua factor
Having built a career around his deadly finishing as an attack-minded midfielder, it is a little ironic that AS Pirae coach Gerard Kautai’s decision to curb Marama Vahirua’s natural instincts was arguably one of his most vital. Usually employed in an advanced role, Kautai opted to name Vahirua as the deepest of a midfield three throughout the tournament but with particularly strong effect at home to Auckland City FC in the semi-final second leg.
With more time and space on the ball, Vahirua revelled in the role to use his vision and range of passing to best effect. AS Pirae toppled Auckland City FC 2-1 at Stade Pater in a stirring performance but the victory wasn’t enough to overturn a 3-0 deficit that may have been even more were it not for the superb goalkeeping of Jonathan Torohia.
What they said:
“Our team is not used to the same high level of intensity at home where there is always a party mood. We have to learn to take the OFC Champions League s
eriously.” – Marama Vahirua, AS Pirae.
7. Amicale 1-1 Auckland City FC: Tade away goal gives Navy Blues slender advantage
Played on a bobbly pitch in front of 10,000 supporters at Port Vila Stadium, Argentine striker Emiliano Tade netted his fifth goal of the OFC Champions League campaign to give Auckland City FC a vital 1-0 lead over Amicale and a precious away goal. Amicale recovered to snatch a deserved 1-1 draw when Dominique Fred lashed home a brilliantly executed goal following an error by Takuya Iwata with 11 minutes left on the clock. How important will the Tade away goal prove to be in the final analysis? Tade’s team-mate Ryan De Vries says it has handed their team an advantage, albeit a small one.
What they said:
“We knew the first leg was going to be very, very, tough. Amicale are a good side, we learned that in Fiji. We worked hard for the away goal in Port Vila and we’re hopeful that with more hard work we can turn this to our advantage and win at Kiwitea Street on Sunday” – Ryan De Vries, Auckland City FC
Ends


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