Oceania Football Confederation > News > 2018 OFC Champions League > Basalaj hoping third time’s a charm

Basalaj hoping third time’s a charm

Scott Basalaj in action against Marist during the Group Stage of the OFC Champions League. Credit: OFC via Phototek

Team Wellington goalkeeper Scott Basalaj has been there, done that, and has the t-shirt to prove it.

But as he heads into his third OFC Champions League final in as many years with Team Wellington, the 24-year-old is hoping to take a different souvenir home this time around.

Basalaj has been on the wrong end of two OFC Champions League finals, both times at the hands of nine-time regional club champions Auckland City FC.

But with Team Wellington having already changed the course of the 2018 final by knocking over their northern foes in the semi-final, Basalaj is excited.

“I think at the final whistle of the of the semi-final I was feeling a bit of relief obviously with how the game went, but also with having all our hard work leading up to the game paid off,” Basalaj said.

“I’m looking forward to the final now.”

While Basalaj has been in this position twice before, it’s a fourth try for Team Wellington in as many years.

“Maybe in previous finals we haven’t performed as well as we could have,” he said.

“So hopefully we can change that this year and perform to our top.”

Helping the side’s case, Basalaj said there is a different feeling in camp this time.

“More confidence,” he stated.

“We’ve been confident in the years before, but I don’t think as confident as this.

Ultimately, Basalaj believes unity is very much at the heart of Team Wellington’s approach to this year’s competition.

“We just, as a group at the back, manage the team as a whole,” he explained of how he would deal with the potential threat from fellow finalists Lautoka FC and their ability to threaten from different positions.

“Obviously they (Lautoka) have got a couple of individual threats but we’ll just manage that altogether – get it done together.

“We have got a really good bunch of guys so I think we’ll do the job this time around.”

It will be no easy feat with at least one member of Lautoka’s squad giving the gloveman food for thought.

Benji Totori is the competition’s leading goalscorer and although he’s in the twilight years of a fantastic career, Basalaj won’t dispel the threat the Solomon Islander can pose.

“He’ll just pop up and do something out of nowhere,” he said.

“We’ll do what we can and just expect the unexpected from him – and all the others as well.”

Conscious of the challenge ahead, Basalaj is also hoping to enjoy the next two games as much as a he can and in the same vein that he has approached the campaign in general.

“I think it’s been really dramatic in the Champions League this year,” he said.

“Usually it’s the same two teams in the final and coming through the groups but I think in every group there’s been a surprise, and in the knockout games as well there’s been surprises too.

“And that’s always good.”

Team Wellington will host Lautoka at David Farrington Park at 2pm this afternoon in the first leg of the OFC Champions League final.

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