Last year just six points separated first time champions Hienghene and the runner-up Magenta on the 22ndand final day of the New Caledonia Super Ligue.

Five months later and the two sides will play their first match of the new season with the winner set to take their place at the top of the standings.

Looking back at the end of the previous season the exact point in which the tide changed in favour of Hienghene was Saturday 16 September.

In the third minute of additional time at Stade Numa Daly, Ivanoe Bamy headed in the winner of a perfectly weighted corner from Bertrand Kai.

That match, in the space of four minutes, decided the title winners.

But a lot has changed since then.

At Hienghene Kai, for one, is injured and it’s highly likely Miguel Kayara’s injury will keep him off the field. Yoan Mercier has retired from football while Roy Kayara joined Team Wellington for the New Zealand Premiership season and the OFC Champions League.

While he’s seen the changes for his opponent, Magenta coach Alain Moizan believes they remain a strong side.

“Hienghene is a team which I like the style of, who play the ball well,” the former France international said.

“They’re down a couple of experienced players with Bertrand Kai injured, Roy Kayara who has left or even Yoan Mercier.

“What I saw against Wetr, they have a much younger side but they have retained the same spirit, the same game. We will see a very good match.”

From Moizan’s side, the start of the season has seen some changes but it’s gone well so far.

“We are used to, each season, having a few newcomers in our squad. It’s something we put in place at the start of the pre-season. Confidence is there, the confidence that we’ve kept or that we find with each match we win,” Moizan said.

Magenta will be without Jim Ouka but has the rest of its squad available.

Both teams have three wins from three so far this season and this afternoon’s match is sure to be an intense one with the potential to take an early lead in the standings important.

Magenta and Hienghene will meet at Stade Numa Daly in Noumea at 5.30pm this afternoon.