Fijian champions Ba have made just one change for the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) 2007 O-League Final 2nd leg against Waitakere United at Mount Smart Stadium on Sunday 29th April.
Inspirational skipper and midfield lynchpin Peni Finau replaces Semesa Doidoi in the Ba squad as the visitors seek the win or draw that will give them the inaugural O-League title and a shot at the FIFA Club World Cup – Japan 2007 later this year.
A crowd of up to 10,000 is expected to gather at Mount Smart Stadium with the majority of Auckland’s Fijian population turning out to support Ba. Fijian radio commentator Raymond Stoddart said the O-League Final was one of the most important matches in Fijian football history and he understood that supporters from as far away as Wellington were preparing to make the long journey northwards to see Ba play.
“Ticket sales in South Auckland have been very impressive and in some cases they have sold out. Fijian people love their football and you can see this in the way they support the various tournaments and competitions both here in New Zealand and back home in Fiji,” Stoddart said.
Waitakere United coach Steve Cain retains the same squad that were defeated in Fiji last weekend confident that the West Aucklanders will be able to overturn the 1st leg deficit. Cain expressed disappointment at the result in Ba last week and his team is expected to undertake an attacking approach with $500,000USD and a place at the FIFA Club World Cup – Japan 2007 at stake.
OFC General Secretary Tai Nicholas said the presence of FIFA Ambassador and former FIFA World Cup winner Christian Karembeu confirmed the level of interest in the region’s showpeice club competition.
“Christian helped us launch the O-League last year and he has kept up a keen interest in the competition since then. It’s a tremendous honour for OFC to have him back in the region to help support this event,” Nicholas said.
Karembeu is expected to arrive in New Zealand on Saturday afternoon and said he was looking forward to the match.
“The O-League Final will be an interesting game. I read the result in Fiji was very close and it would be exciting to see a very open attacking game in New Zealand,” Karembeu said.
Live coverage of the 2007 O-League Final will be available on SKY Sports 1 in New Zealand, Fiji TV, American Samoa, Solomon Islands and
A post match press conference will take place at Room 3 in the West Stand at 4:20PM following the trophy and medal presentations. Stadium gates open at 10:30am with an OFC Under 10 mini-tournament commencing at 11:00am.
OCEANIA FOOTBALL CONFEDERATION
2007 O-LEAGUE FINAL
MOUNT SMART STADIUM
Sunday 29th April 2007
WAITAKERE UNITED (NZL) vs. BA (FIJ) – Ba lead 2-1 on aggregate
WAITAKERE UNITED: 1. Michael Utting 2. George Suri 4. Hone Fowler 5. Danny Hay (c) 6. Sam Jasper 8. Commins Menapi 9. Pedro Santos 10. Allan Pearce 11. Craig Wylie 12. Jakub Sinkora 13. Daniel Koprivcic 14. Hoani Edwards 15. Prince Quansah 16. Michael Gwyther 19. Rupesh Puna 21. Graham Pearce 22. Simon Eaddy 23. Jeff Campbell.
BA1. Laisenia Tuba 2. Avinesh Swamy 3. Shalen Lal 4. Leone Vurukania 5. Roneel Kumar 6. Jone Vesikula 7. Niumaia Tagi 8. Keni Doidoi 9. Josaia Bukalidi 10. Ronald Chandra 11. Robert Wise 12. Peni Finau (c) 13. Kiniviliame Kainihewe 14. Luke Vidovi 15. Osea Vakatalesau 16. Malakai Tiwa 17. Malakai Kainihewe.
REFEREE: Jacques AVERII (TAHITI)
ASSISTANT REFEREE: Teariki GOODWIN (COOK ISLANDS)
ASSISTANT REFEREE: Jeremie HUATA (TAHITI)
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Lencie FRED (VANUATU)
5 – Commins MENAPI (Waitakere United)
4 – Daniel KOPRIVCIC (Waitakere United)
3 – Paul URLOVIC (Auckland City), Grant YOUNG (Auckland City), Joe LUWI (Marist FC)
2 – Bryan LITTLE (Auckland City), Laisenia TUBA (Ba FC), Keni DOIDOI (Ba FC), Keryn JORDAN (Auckland City).
1 – Osea VAKATALESAU (Ba FC), Danny HAY (Waitakere United), Allan PEARCE (Waitakere United), Hoani EDWARDS (Waitakere United), Patrick DIAIKE (AS Mont Dore), Roneel KUMAR (Ba FC), Jean Francois KABEU (AS Temanava), Tuimasi MANOCI (Ba FC), Roberto POIROI (AS Temanava), Maheanu ARAPARII (AS Temanava), James NAKA (Marist FC), Craig WYLIE (Waitakere United), Michael GWYTHER (Waitakere United), Roland CHANDRA (Ba FC), Josaia BUKALIDI (Ba FC), own goal.