Reigning champions Hienghène Sport couldn’t ask for a better leader on the pitch than their talismanic skipper Bertrand Kai, who is determined to lead his charges to back-to-back titles as Group A of the OFC Champions League kicks off on Sunday in Papua New Guinea.
The 2012 Oceania Player of the Year had experienced plenty of success both at international as well as club level and after lifting the OFC Champions League trophy at the end of last year’s competition, the 36-year-old striker is keen to add another regional crown to his impressive resume.
Going into the brand new season, Kai and his teammates will be high on confidence and motivated by pride.
The club from New Caledonia’s North Province was the first senior team from the Francophone Pacific nation to be represented on the global stage when they flew Oceania’s flag at the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar.
They were also the first non-New Zealand OFC side at the FIFA Club World Cup since Papua New Guinea’s Hekari United in 2010.
Despite his side’s recent success, Kai is well aware the New Caledonian champions cannot underestimate any of their opponents.
Drawn into a tough group with the likes of 2010 winners and hosts Hekari United, New Zealand champions and tournament debutants Eastern Suburbs and Galaxy FC from Vanutau, who will also embark on their maiden Champions League campaign, Hienghène will have their work cut out for them if they want to defend their title.
And the skipper insists his entire team is fully focussed on the task ahead.
“It’s not about what happened yesterday, or last year, it’s all about today and what is our next challenge for tomorrow,” he said.
“It won’t be easy, every team in our group is strong, these are the best teams in Oceania and we will have to work really hard to overcome them. But we are experienced, we trust each other, we are focussed, we know how to win and we have a strong mentality. And in every match we will need all of that if we are to succeed,” added the Hienghène skipper.
Hienghène Sport’s first assignment will be against Vanuatu’s Galaxy FC in Sunday’s Group A opener at 12pm (local time) at Port Moresby’s Sir John Guise Stadium.
To view the results, match schedule and latest news for the OFC Champions League 2020