Defending champions Auckland City FC are facing a winner-takes-all encounter against Amicale in the final match of the group stages on Sunday afternoon. The Navy Blues will go into their game against their old foe from Vanuatu knowing that a defeat could end their quest for a sixth successive title. In the day’s earlier match the Solomon Warriors and Papua New Guinea champions Lae City Dwellers will both be keen to avoid the wooden spoon.
The Solomon Warriors’ return to the Champions League has been a mixed bag. They were comprehensively outplayed by Auckland City in their opening match before an impressive 1-1 draw with Vanuatu heavyweights Amicale. The Solomon Islanders will be eager to finish their campaign with a win. Moses Toata believes his players can take a lot of positives out of their performance against Amicale.
“From this one we will be building on our game and will try and improve some aspects of our game. Tactically we will need to work harder.”
Meanwhile, Champions League newcomers Lae City will be desperate to create history by claiming their first ever win in the region’s elite international club competition. And they have plenty of reasons to be optimistic. The Papua New Guinea title holders showed glimpses of their potential in their 3-0 defeat to Amicale before an even more impressive performance against Auckland City in their second group game.
Peter Gunemba’s charges pushed the seven-time champions all the way before a goal in the final minute of regulation time condemned them to a narrow 2-1 defeat. The coach is hoping his troops have saved their best for their final outing of the tournament.
“We’ll give our very, very best against them and we hope to win that game and go home with heads high.”
Auckland City have ruled the OFC Champions League with an iron fist since 2011. And Ramon Tribulietx‘s men are still on track for their sixth title in a row. They enter the final match day on top of Group A with two wins from their two matches. However they know a slip up against Amicale could end their dream of once again representing Oceania at the FIFA Club World Cup later in the year in Japan.
The Navy Blues will need to get at least a draw against Amicale to secure their passage into the final four. Having been drawn into the same group in the past three years the two sides will have a fair idea of what to expect. And Auckland City’s Catalan coach Ramon Tribulietx is preparing for a tough challenge.
“Yeah, we know each other very well. Of course, it will be a different side from the one we faced last time but their basic structure, philosophy and style will be the same. They are experienced at this level and more importantly they are hungry for success. This will be a very tough match for us.”
Amicale are in on a mission to make amends for failing to progress from the group stages in last year’s Champions League in Fiji. And they signaled their intentions with a dominant 3-0 victory over Lae City Dwellers in their tournament opener.
However, Mauro Bertoni’s men were far less convincing in their second Group A match against the Solomon Warriors. Still trailing 1-0 in stoppage time it took a brilliant free kick from Giorgio Bertacchi to give Amicale a share of the points.
Only a win against Auckland City will be enough for Amicale to qualify for the next stage of the 2016 OFC Champions League. But Italian boss Mauro Bertoni insists his charges will not change their game-plan against the pre-tournament favourites.
“Nothing will change for our plan because this is our football especially when you play against a team with such high quality like Auckland.”
The OFC would like to acknowledge its sponsors iRENA, Telikom PNG, Konika Minolta, Tranzit Coachlines, Frucor and UNICEF.
Solomon Warriors vs. Lae City Dwellers
QBE Stadium Oval
Auckland, New Zealand
Sunday 17 April, 2016
Referee: Médéric LACOUR (NCL)
Assistant Referee 1: Phillipe REVEL (TAH)
Assistant Referee 2: Sione TEU (TGA)
Fourth Official: Joel HOPKKEN (VAN)
The players: Despite only managing to score once in their opening two matches, two attacking players caught the eye from the Warriors. Molea Tigi and Dennis Ifunaoa both looked dangerous going forward. Ifunaoa’s clinical finish against Amicale will no doubt give him and his side plenty of confidence ahead of their match against Lae City.
The vital statistics:Following just 26 per cent possession in their opening game against Auckland City, the Warriors faired far better against Amicale with a 45 per cent share of the ball. However the Solomon players were still unable to create enough clear cut chances. After failing to record a single shot on target against Auckland City, the Warriors only managed two accurate strikes on Amicale’s goal.
Coach Quote:“The understanding that we want to establish, we have little time to work on it, just two days, and I hope that the boys will be back up on their feet and ready to start again.”
Squad list: 1. Samson KOTI (GK), 2. Haddis AENGARI, 3. Matson FENNY, 4. Fred FAKARI, 5. Dennis IFUNAOA, 6. Molea TIGI, 9. Jerry DONGA, 10. Albert WITNEY, 11. Ian PAIA 14. Augustine SAMANI, 15. Daniel NATOU, 16. Emmanuel POILA, 18. Henry FA’ARODO 19. Gibson DAUDAU, 21. Brian KALTACK, 22. Milton FURAI, 24. Kensi TANGIS, 26. Loea Mani TAISARA, 27. Benjamin BAEORO, 28. Anthony TALO (GK)
Coach: Moses Toata (SOL)
Lae City Dwellers
The players: Papua New Guinea internationals and former Hekari United strikers Raymond Gunemba and Nigel Dabinyaba looked the most likely to create problems for opposition defenders. The pair have a good understanding and looked dangerous from both open plays and set pieces. Gunemba’s wonderful strike to beat Auckland City goalkeeper Diego Rivas has been one of the best free-kicks of the tournament to date.
The vital statistics: With only an only 39 per cent share possession against Amicale and just 32 per cent of the ball against Auckland City the Dwellers had to rely on a counter-attacking style. However, the Lae strikers looked more than capable of causing problems on the break with three shots on target in both games.
Coach Quote: “It will be a pretty good match. I was underestimating Warriors in the first place but now I’ve seen them play against Amicale they played very well.”
Squad list: 1. Matheson NASA (GK) 2. Mosebuya-Mosie MILUBWA, 3. Valentine NELSON 4. Goropaul ALBERT, 5. Japhet TIAMPO, 6. Troy GUNEMBA, 7. Raymond GUNEMBA, 8 Michael FOSTER, 9. Nigel DABINYABA, 10. Obert BIKA, 11. Joachim WAROI, 12 Mathew DAVID, 13. Adolf KUMISI, 14. Ken KEPE M, 15. Joshua TALAU, 16. Carlos PEKA, 17. Cyril MUTA, 18. Bewa WILLIE, 19. Esa NASA, 20. Ronald WARISAN (GK) 21. Peter DABINYABA JNR, 22. Billson BULLO, 23. John KICHANI
Coach: Peter Gunemba
The players: Despite claiming a brace in his opening match against Lae City, former Auckland City striker Adam Dickinson was left on the bench against the Solomon Warriors. However, with his side struggling to break down the Warriors defence the 29-year-old Englishman was introduced straight after the half time break. Dickinson’s link-up play with Diego Nadaya could be the key for Amicale against Auckland City.
The vital statistics: In their tournament opener Mauro Bertoni’s men used their 61 per cent possession to good effect to create seven shots on target for their three goals. In their second game the Vanuatu outfit once again dominated possession to generate plenty of goal scoring opportunities. However, their one goal from 12 shots on target seems like a poor return.
Coach Quote: “For a small club like us normally it’s a big mountain and now it’s terrible because the situation is so hard for us. But never give up, heads up and keep going and at the end we will
check the result and decide for our future.”
Squad list: 1. Mauro BOERCHIO (GK), 2. Ian HOGG, 3. Goshen DONA, 4. Gianmario LIBURDI, 5. Francesco PERRONE, 6. Colin MARSHALL, 7. Antonio VIOLI, 8. Jack WETNEY 9. Adam DICKINSON, 10. Fenedy MASAUVAKOLO, 11. James NAKA, 12. Dominique FRED, 13. Francois SAKAMA, 14. Alphonse BONGNAIM, 15. Diego NADAYA, 17. Nelson SALE, 18. Freddie KINI, 20. Seiloni IARUEL (GK), 21. Giorgio BERTACCHI, 22. Jackson TEMARKON, 24. Octav MELTECOIN, 25. Jacky RUBEN, 26. Diego GALVAO
Coach:Mauro Bertoni (ITA)
Auckland City FC vs. Amicale
QBE Stadium Oval
Auckland, New Zealand
Sunday 17 April, 2016
Referee: Averii JACQUES (TAH)
Assistant Referee 1: Ravinesh KUMAR (FIJ)
Assistant Referee 2: Ujwaal MUDLIAR (FIJ)
Fourth Official: Salesh CHAND (FIJ)
Auckland City FC
The players: Joao Moreira has been Auckland City’s most impressive player to date. Despite only coming on as a second half substitute against the Solomon Warriors the 30-year old Portuguese striker wasted no time in grabbing his hat-trick. He followed up his impressive opening performance with another eye-catching display against Lae City. With time almost up and the score still level at 1-1, Moreira showed composure to give his side a crucial last-gasp win.
The vital statistics: The seven-time champions have dominated possession in their opening two games to record a combined 39 shots on goal and 18 on target. However, on both occasions they only managed to force their advantage home in the final minutes.
Coach Quote: “It’s a knock-out match scenario, like a final. If you lose you are out. It’s the same for every team from here on. Amicale will be a very tough challenge and we know what to expect.”
Squad list: 1. Jacob SPOONLEY (GK), 2. Marko DORDEVIC, 3. Takuya IWATA 4. Mario BILEN, 5. Angel BERLANGA 6. Jesse EDGE, 7. Reid DRAKE, 8. Michael DEN HEIJER, 9. Darren WHITE, 10. Ryan DE VRIES, 11. Te Atawhai HUDSON-WIHONGI, 12. Nicolai BERRY, 13. Alfred ROGERS, 14. Clayton LEWIS, 15. Ivan VICELICH, 16. Daewook KIM, 17. Joao MOREIRA, 18. Danyon DRAKE (GK), 19. Micah LEA’ALFA, 20. Emiliano TADE, 22. Andrew MILNE, 24. Diego RIVAS (GK), 25. Fabrizio TAVANO
Coach: Ramon Tribulietx (ESP)