Both AS Pirae and Ba were beaten in their first leg matches but face very different challenges as they seek to overturn the deficits accrued last week.
But Ba manager Arvind Singh refuses to give up despite his side chasing the game in Port Vila.
“In sport anything is possible. If Amicale can come and beat us in our own home ground then I believe we can do the same there. The players have learned from their mistakes in the first leg and they will try their best not to repeat it. We’re gunning for a win to make the nation of Fiji proud.
“The players will face lot of pressure playing in front of the Vanuatu die-hard fans but we are hopeful that the players will be able to absorb this pressure and deliver the result we are after,” Singh says.
Amicale boss Nathan Hall is equally cautious about drawing too many conclusions about Saturday’s game based on the first leg.
“We understand that we need to make sure we play equally as well as last week because we have a lead, but only a slender lead. We were able to score two goals in quick succession and that means that Ba can also do the same thing to us if we lose our focus and concentration for a split second.
“We’ll regroup over the next couple of days and recover, because conditions in Fiji were extremely demanding. We’re a very fit team, we work very hard from back to front so we need to put them under pressure from the first minute and we’ll expect the attacking players that we have to score goals,” he says.
Two players at his disposal for the return leg are both former OFC Champions League Golden Boot winners, Vanuatu international Fenedy Masauvakalo and Nigerian-born striker Sanni Issa. Issa missed the group stage because of a visa issue, while Masauvakalo was unavailable due to work commitments.
“Fenedy has only just come back into the mix, so he’s still a little bit off full match fitness so I need to be careful how quickly I bring him back into the frame. He had a bit of game time a few days ago against Ba in the first leg, I think that was good for him to blow out the cobwebs so he’ll have a pretty intensive week out there on the training ground.
“We hope to get Fenedy’s fitness up a little bit more but we’ve got to be careful with these players because he’s done next to nothing for the past four months now, so we can’t expect too much too soon. On the flipside, he’s a very good football player so we know that he can give us something extra in that final third, he’s very creative, has good vision and understands the game so he definitely improves the team.
“It’s obviously been tough for Sanni not being able to be part of the team in Fiji in that group stage. He’s probably a little bit behind physically as well because he hasn’t played 90 minutes for more than one month now. He’s obviously trained with the team today, and for the rest of this week – again he’s a good player and he’ll give me something to think about come Friday night,” Hall added.
Another factor that could prove decisive is the Port Vila Municipal Stadium crowd. Hall believes the passion of the home support could be the difference between winning or losing the tie.
“They’ll be a massive factor in my opinion. I only look at the game in Ba on the Sunday and it was like Amicale were playing a home game. That’s no disrespect to Fiji fans, but we had 200-250 parochial young Vanuatu supporters that never stopped singing and dancing and drumming for 95 minutes so you can multiply that by 50 and you’ve got Port Vila because you’re going to have a full stadium and everybody will be doing that.
“It’ll have a great atmosphere and I’m sure for the boys it’ll really help them lift their game through the intensity of the fans and the passion and the energy that they show. We’re really looking forward to playing a home game at this level, it’s been about a year now since their last OFC Champions League home game so it’s something we really look forward to,” he says.
While Amicale and Ba meet to decide the first finalist position on Saturday, AS Pirae and Auckland City FC clash 24 hours later in Tahiti to discover the identity of the other finalist.
AS Pirae, punished 3-0 by Auckland City FC at Kiwitea Street, must score a victory of at least the same margin to force their match into extra-time, a hangover from the Tahitian champions inability to score a crucial away goal last week.
Auckland City FC, who were on the verge of elimination in the group stage in Fiji on April 15, only survived in the competition because of AS Pirae’s 3-1 win over Waitakere United.
Now all the reigning champions need to advance to their fourth consecutive final – and sixth overall – is a draw, but their coach Ramon Tribulietx has a warning for anyone writing off AS Pirae’s chances.
“We will be expecting AS Pirae to do everything they can to come back into the tie, for sure. They are a very aggressive and direct team and I expect a very intense return leg in Papeete.
“I am sure that no one at Auckland City FC thinks that this tie is finished. It was a good result for us last week but football can hurt you badly if you take your foot off the pedal,” he says.
“This is another 90 minute game now, you can’t underestimate anyone and you can’t write off any possibility. We need to make sure that we compete well and that we generate enough chances to win the game, this will be our mind set,” Tribulietx added.
Tribulietx’s opposite number Gerard Kautai admits AS Pirae are up against it as they try to overturn a three goal deficit.
“It will be a difficult task to come back after losing three goals but we will give all our best to change the situation in our favour. We do not have any choice other than to attack and score goals.
“The best situation would be scoring at least two goals before half-time but we have to be careful not to concede goals as it would put us in a much harder situation,” he says.
The match between Amicale and Ba kicks off at 2.30pm local time on Saturday 3 May and live radio coverage is available courtesy of FM 107 Vanuatu here
AS Pirae’s match with Auckland City FC is scheduled for 8.45pm local time on Saturday 3 May TAHT/ 6.45pm on Sunday 4 May NZST.
Full match replays of both matches will be made available through the OFC Champions League Facebook page and official OFC YouTube channel.
TNTV Tahiti & VBTC, Vanuatu will each provide 10 minutes highlights packages with Post-Match interviews and made available to regional broadcasters through OFC TV.
Live updates are available at www.oceaniafootball.com
Amicale [VAN] v Ba [FIJ]
Port Vila Municipal Stadium, Vanuatu
Saturday 3 May 2014
Referee: George TIME [SOL]
Head to head: Played 3, Ba 2 wins, Amicale 1 win, 0 draws.
Aggregate score: Amicale 2-1 Ba
Amicale FC Form: W-W-W-W
The players: Sanni ISSA and Fenedy MASAUVAKOLO are both available.
The vital statistics: Amicale’s last meeting with Ba at this venue ended in a 2-1 defeat on 20 April 2013. Fenedy MASAVAUKOLO was on target for Amicale while Sanni ISSA – then with Ba – scored the winning goal for the Fijian champions from the penalty mark.
Squad list (from): 1. Chikau MANSALE (GK), 4. Davide TALONE, 6. Sivan SWAMY, 8. Milan MATIC, 9. Esava NAQELECA, 10. Nikola VASILIC, 11. Sanni ISSA, 13. Francois SAKAMA, 15. Alphonse BONGNAIM, 16. Daniel NATOU, 17. Nelson SALE, 18. Robert TOM, 20. Michael RUTHERFORD (GK), 21. Paul YOUNG, 22. Fenedy MASAUVAKOLO, 23. Roddy LENGA, 24. Kensi TANGIS, 25. Laitia TUILAU, 26. Silas NAMATAK, 27. Octav MELTECOIN, 28. Johnny TIRAENG, 29. Dominique FRED, 30. Jack WETNEY, 31. Marko DORDEVIC, 32. Rodney SERVEUX, 33. Joel NAKAPUE (GK), 34. Colin M
ARSHALL, 35. Richard ANISUA, 38. Barry MANSALE
Coach: Nathan HALL (AUS)
Ba FC Form: W-W-D-L
The players: Former Ba star Sanni ISSA could line-up against his old club on Saturday just over a year after he scored the winning goal against Amicale for the Men in Black. The other player on target was talismanic midfielder Avinesh SUWAMY. SUWAMY scored Ba’s only goal in last week’s loss to Amicale at Govind Park.
The vital statistics: Ba must win the game by a margin of 2-0 to advance to the finals for the first time since 2007. It is Ba’s 35th OFC Champions League match since 2006.
Squad list (from): 1. Epeli CODRO [GK], Avinesh SUWAMY, 3. Meli CODRO, 4. Marika MADIGI, 5. Ronil KUMAR, 6. Jone VESIKULA, 7. Maciu DUNADAMU, 8. Aisea CODRO, 9. Abbu ZAHID, 10. Mavileko NAKAMA, 11. Josefata NEIBULI, 12. Remueru TEKIATE, 13. Kini VILIAME, 14. Peni FINAU, 15. Osea VAKATALESAU, 16. Ronald LAWRENCE, 17. Malakai KANAHEWE, 18. Laisenia RAURA, 19. Manasa NAWAKULA, 20. Shameel RAO, 21. Samuela NABENIA, 22. Jone SOROLO [GK], 23. Leone VURAKANIA, 24. Narendra RAO, 25. Praneel NAIDU, 26. Epeli LAIROTI, 27. Saula WAQA, 28. Sitiveni CAVUILAGI, 29. Misiwane NAIRUBE [GK], 30. Patrick SARWAN
Coach: Yogendra DUTT (FIJ)
AS Pirae [TAH] v Auckland City FC [NZL]
Stade Pater, Papeete, Tahiti
Saturday 3 May, 2014
Kick-off: 8.45pm local time
Referee: Isidore ASSIENE-AMBASSA [NCL]
Head to head: Played 4, Auckland 3 wins, AS Pirae 1 win, 0 draws
Aggregate score: AS Pirae 0-3 Auckland City FC
AS Pirae Form: W-W-W-L
The players: Raimoana BENNETT, Teva ZAVERONI, Raimana LI FUNG KUEE and Naea BENNETT are the only players from the AS Pirae team that defeated Auckland City FC nine years ago.
The vital statistics: AS Pirae’s last win over Auckland City FC was achieved on this same venue on 2 June, 2005, when a Raimoana BENNETT goal earned a 1-0 win for the home side. AS Pirae need a 4-0 win to advance to their first OFC Champions League final since 2006.
Squad list (from): 1. Stevens HIRIGA [GK], 2. Tauirai TEIVA, 3. Ariinui TAPU, 4. Ken WARREN, 5. Raimoana BENNETT, 6. Gael MESLIEN, 7. Raimana LI FUNG KUEE, 8. Salomon TEVEPAUHU, 9. Naea BENNETT, 10. Charles LABASTE, 11. Teva ZAVERONI, 12. Franck REVEL [GK], 13. Raumatahi NOHO, 14. Augustin DALLERA, 15. Teriinoho TIHONI, 17. Marc VAKI, 18. Jimmy TEPA, 19. Marama VAHIRUA, 20. Jay WARREN, 21. Javier PAEZ, 22. Tainui LEHARTEL, 23. Hubert TAUHA, 24. Jonathan TOROHIA [GK], 25. Heimanu TAIARUI, 26. Huimana PARKER.
Coach: Gerard KAUTAI (TAH)
Assistant coach: Sam GARCIA (FRA)
Auckland City FC Form: W-W-L-W
The players: James PRITCHETT faces a late fitness test before coach Ramon TRIBULIETX can make a decision about the composition of his starting XI for Tahiti. Darren WHITE could be in line to make a start in PRITCHETT’s right back slot. Angel BERLANGA is unlikely to return for the rest of the season due to his knee ligament injury.
The vital statistics: Auckland City FC require a draw to advance to their fourth consecutive OFC Champions League final, their sixth overall. James PRITCHETT is the only player left from the Auckland City FC side that played AS Pirae in 2005.
Squad list (from): 1. Tamati WILLIAMS (GK), 3. Takuya IWATA, 4. Mario BILEN, 5. Angel BERLANGA, 6. John IRVING, 7. James PRITCHETT, 9. Darren WHITE, 10. Ryan de VRIES, 11. Daniel KOPRIVCIC, 13. Alex FENERIDIS,15. Ivan VICELICH, 16. Daewook KIM, 17. Joao MOREIRA, 18. Louie CAUNTER (GK), 19. David BROWNE, 20. Emiliano TADE, 22. Andrew MILNE, 23. Sam BURFOOT, 25. Sean LOVEMORE, 26. Sean MORRIS, 27. Mario ILICH
Coach: Ramon TRIBULIETX (ESP)