oceaniafootball.com presents the 2015 OFC Champions League participating teams.
Amicale is one of two representatives from Vanuatu and will be playing in their fifth tournament. The Red Roosters are the most successful Vanuatu side to play in this competition, reaching the final twice, in 2011 and in 2014. The only mark on Amicale’s record in last year’s edition was a 2-1 loss against Auckland City in return leg of the final. To increase their chances of success this time around, Amicale have recruited a strong contingent of European players including five Italians. They have a record of 33 games played for 15 wins, 11 losses and 7 draws in the OFC Champions League.
Auckland City FC
The current trophy holders made their entrance into the OFC Champions League ten years ago. They reached their first final the following year against AS Pirae from Tahiti, a game they won 3-1 with a hat-trick courtesy of the late Keryn Jordan. Since their debut in the competition, the Navy Blues have a record of six OFC Champions League trophies, four of them they have won consecutively since 2011. They have played 63 games in total for 41 wins, 10 losses, 12 draws and scored 168 goals.
The Men in Black first entered the OFC Champions League in 2005. Since their debut they have participated in eight editions but have only once reached the final, in 2007 against Waitakere United. Since then, their best result remains two semi-final appearances in 2013 and 2014. They have played 39 games in total for 18 wins, 14 losses and 7 draws. In 2013, Ba’s striker Sanni Issa finished top scorer with nine goals.
The New Caledonia champions will play their first ever OFC Champions League this year. Gaitcha’s objective is to lift New Caledonia football to the pinnacle of Oceania football, no mean feat as no other New Caledonia team has reached the OFC Champions League final since Magenta in 2005. Gaitcha can count on their strong recruitment of local players like 2011 OFC Player of Year Bertrand Kai, Marius Bako and Pierre Wajoka, who was the captain in the 2005 final which Magenta lost 2-0 to Sydney FC.
The eight-time Papua New Guinea champions created history in 2010 when they became the first ever Pacific Island team, outside of Australia or New Zealand, to win the OFC Champions League. Hekari United make their seventh consecutive appearance in this edition. Since their debut, they have played 36 games for 12 wins, 13 losses and 11 draws.
Lupe Ole Soaga
Lupe Ole Soaga are the second consecutive Samoan representatives to qualify for Oceania’s premier club competition after Kiwi FC last year. They qualified for their first ever OFC Champions League after winning the OFC Champions League Preliminary last year without being defeated. The club can rely on experienced players like Andrew Setefano, Luki Gosche and Silao Malo.
AS Pirae’s history in the OFC Champions League began back in 2005. Just one year after making their debut they went on to reach the final which they lost 3-1 to Auckland City FC. After an eight year absence, they returned to the competition last year and immediately went on to reach the semi-finals. Pirae have an experienced squad with players having played at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup and FIFA Confederations Cup in 2013, including former professional Marama Vahirua.
For their debut in this competition the Fiji champions will have the difficult task trying to overcome both 2014 finalists Auckland City and Amicale. To strengthen their squad ahead to the tournament Suva have recruited Italian goalkeeper Giacomo Ratto and Spanish midfielder Adrian Medina.
The 16-time Vanuatu champions join Amicale FC in representing Vanuatu football in this year’s edition. They made their debut in the tournament in 1999 and reached the final in the following edition held in 2001. Since then they have reached the semi-finals twice, in 2005 and 2008. Coached by former Vanuatu international Moise Poida, Tafea will be relying on all their experience to emerge triumphant from Group C.
Last year’s ASB Premiership runners-up are participating in their first ever OFC Champions League. The team from the New Zealand’s capital has recruited players with a strong background in this competition like former Auckland City players Ian Hogg and Alex Feneridis and Waitakere United defenders Aaron Scott and Tim Myers. The experience of former Wellington Phoenix striker Paul Ifill will be of added value.
The club from Faa’a is approaching its third OFC Champions League campaign knowing their recent success in the Tahitian championship Ligue 1 VINI has confirmed their spot in next year’s edition. Coached by former Tahiti international Sebastien Labayen, Tefana will be using the experience gained during their last two campaigns, and in particular that of 2012 when they reached the final against Auckland City.
Despite being one of the rookies the Solomon Islands champions can count among them numerous players with a strong background in this competition like James Naka, Gagame Feni and Joses Nawo. The club has also been busy recruiting overseas players from Italy, England, France, Scotland and Belgium. This side is on the hunt to become the third Solomon Islands team to reach the final after Kossa in 2008 and Koloale in 2009.