Two dominant wins marked the opening day of Group D of the OFC Champions League 2020 in Tahiti on Sunday (TAH time).
Heavyweights Auckland City FC flexed their muscles with a 6-0 win over Ba FC while local favourites AS Venus eased past Lupe Ole Soaga SC by the same margin in wet conditions at the Stade Pater.
Ba FC 0-6 Auckland City FC
Auckland City always shaped as one of the favourites in Group D and they showed why as they brushed aside Ba.
Three goals in each half did the job for the nine-time Oceania club champions with Emiliano Tade grabbing a double, while Jordan Vale, Logan Rogerson, Myer Bevan and Brian Kaltack also scored.
The Navy Blues looked comfortable with the ball at their feet despite the conditions and were happy to build into the game.
Ba had their moments during the opening 30 minutes but once Auckland started scoring the Fijian side struggled to stem the tide.
Auckland City coach Jose Figueira said his side’s experience proved vital as they adjusted to the wet weather.
“Very happy, the first game’s always tricky in this competition with the limited analysis on what the opposition’s going to be like,” he said.
“I thought the way that we started the game was really pleasing. We knew we had to compete, we knew that it would be tough physically and we knew we’d have to deal with the conditions.”
Ba coach Ricki Herbert said his team let themselves down with some loose marking in the final third, which proved costly.
“It was a tough one. We knew it would be like that,” he said.
“Probably a little bit disappointed with some of the simple mistakes we made. I thought we started really well. I thought we were right on the front foot.”
Ba rarely troubled the Auckland defence and their upcoming fixtures against Venus and Lupe will be vital if they want to move on to the knockout stages.
Lupe Ole Soaga SC 0-6 AS Venus
Tahiti’s Venus thrilled the home fans with a comfortable outing to get their campaign underway.
Tamatoa Tetauira was the star of the show with a hat-trick but he was well supported with goals to Teaonui Tehau and Tauhiti Keck; Lupe captain Andrew Setefano conceded an own goal.
Venus were slick in the attacking space with Tehau looking particularly dangerous with his pace.
Lupe had a couple of half chances in the opening exchanges but were unable to capitalise on their opportunities.
Venus probably could have had more on another day as they managed to hit the woodwork three times in the first 33 minutes as they took a 2-0 lead to the break.
The rain continued to fall in the second spell but Venus kept the pressure on Samoan side Lupe who earned their spot in Group D via the Qualifying Stage.
Venus coach Sam Garcia said it was a pleasing way to start pool play.
“Happy with the result but we can do better. It was just the first match, and the conditions were a bit complex, but that was [the same] for the two sides. We just really need to do better at holding onto the ball because tonight it was difficult,” he said.
“The main thing is that we won, you have to score goals, you have to win and that was done. Now we’ll focus on recovering well for Wednesday.”
Venus will meet Auckland City on Wednesday in what looms as a pivotal game to shape the group.
Lupe coach Paul Ualesi said he was proud of his side despite the defeat.
“We missed some good opportunities,” he said.
“But we are going to work on some silly mistakes. That cost us for the first and second half.”
Lupe will play Ba on Wednesday.
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