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Big test ahead in Cup final

The two clubs representing New Caledonia in next year’s OFC Champions League will have a chance to show their strength this weekend when they go head to head in the Coupe de Calédonie final at Stade Numa Daly on Saturday.

Hienghène Sport and AS Magenta will face-off for the fourth time this year alone, with Alain Moizan’s charges at Magenta holding the advantage across those encounters, in addition to a total of nine Coupe de Calédonie titles behind them.

But it’s not all bad news for Felix Tagawa and his men from the north, with the side taking part in their third final in three years and going into the match as defending champions.

Chasing their third Coupe de Calédonie title, Hienghène earned a series of narrow victories on their path to the final. They beat AS Mont Dore 3-2 in the first knock-out match before taking down Ne Drehu by the same margin in the Quarter-Finals. During last week’s semi-final they defeated AS Patho 2-1 to secure their spot in the final.

For Magenta their first knock-out match saw them set the tone for their journey to the final as they beat Auteuil-Dumbea 4-0 before taking out Wacaele 3-2. Their semi-final against 2016 OFC Champions League participants AS Lossi was a slim 1-0 victory but all they needed to set up a showdown with their northern rivals.

New Caledonia national team coach Thierry Sardo will be commentating the final with NC 1ere journalist Martin Charmasson, and both believe it will be an exciting encounter between two of the leading sides in domestic football right now – and two sides they find almost impossible to separate.

“It’s not easy to pick a favourite for the final when these sides have twice had the same result, 2-2, in the league,” Sardo said.

“It will be a clash of styles. The quiet strength of Magenta, good positioning and very solid at the back.

“And opposite them, the enthusiasm and fire of Hienghène, and the speed they possess up front,” Sardo continues.

“It’s opposing styles on the bench too; Alain Moizan who has won a lot with Magenta, and Felix Tagawa, the younger generation and the winner of the cup last year.”

Charmasson said it is great to see two of the top sides in the country playing off in the final.

“They will pull local football higher, they organised clubs and both with very professional approaches,” he said.

“On the field there is the top scorer, Bertrand Kai, plus the likes of Roy Kayara, Brice Dahite and Clifton Kanva.

“And on the other side, Magenta, guys like Pierre Wajoka who still possesses bewildering accuracy, or the midfield duo from the national team Cédric Sansot and Joël Wakanumuné. It’s very solid.”

The final of the Coupe de Calédonie will take place tonight at Numa Daly Stadium with kick-off scheduled for 8pm.

“This should be a good game,” Sardo concluded.

“The cream of Caledonian football,” his co-commentator agreed.

For more on New Caledonia football visit www.fedcalfoot.com

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