Excitement is building ahead of a potentially decisive day at 2019 OFC Champions League Qualifier tournament in Rarotonga’s CIFA Academy.
Following an entertaining opening round that saw plenty of passion and pride as well as 11 goals scored, fans will be hoping for another action packed day of football as the competition resumes on Tuesday (local, Wednesday NZ time).
Survival will be on the line for Pago Youth from American Samoa and their Samoan rivals Kiwi FC as neither side can afford a second defeat when they line up against each other to kick off the day’s proceedings.
Despite a promising start in their opener Pago Youth conceded five second half goals to suffer a 5-1 loss in the hands of Tongan champions Lotoha’apai United FC, while Kiwi FC had an equally disappointing start to the tournament going down 4-1 to hosts Tupapa Maraerenga FC in a physical encounter which the Samoans finished with nine men after committing two red card offences.
Both set of players will need to give all they have to keep their Champions League qualification hopes alive and Pago Youth coach Martin Tamasese insists motivation will not be an issue for his troops.
“We still have two games left and our hopes are still alive, I told the boys to forget about he first match and they listen to me.
“We put it behind us and now we focus on our next match and the rest of the tournament.
“It’s a new day tomorrow and we will be prepared for the match against our brothers from Pago,” he said.
Pago Youth coach Rambo Tapui lamented his sides fading fitness in the second half against Lotoha’apai United but he is hoping the fierce rivalry with their Pacific cousins will bring the best out of his players.
“We are fully focussed on the game against Kiwi, I think it’s going to be a rough and tough game because the boys from Samoa always clash, and hopefully my guys can raise their fitness a little bit to be more competitive.
“We have a lot to play for, we play for American Samoa our family and everyone else back home cheering us on,” added the Pago Youth coach.
Thanks to an impressive first round performance by Tupapa Maraerenga, local fans are expected to turn up in numbers to watch the hosts’ top of the table clash with Tonga’s Lotoha’apai United.
With two qualification spots up for grabs, a win for either side would all but guarantee a passage to the next stage of Oceania’s premier club football competition.
Tupapa Maraerenega looked impressive and well organised in the back as well as dangerous moving forward but it was their mobility and quick transition at the centre of the park that caught the eye.
Their Tongan rivals also showed plenty of enterprise in key midfield positions which could be the main battle ground between these two sides.
Despite a convincing 5-1 win over Pago Youth the Tongan champions admit they will need to make further improvements if they want to upset the local favourites.
“We will go back to the drawing board and work on some of mistakes from the opening match where we have created a lot of chances but lacked the finishing and we will need to improve on that when we play Tupapa,” coach Lui Muavesi said.
Delighted to kick off the tournament with a win against Kiwi FC, Tupapa coach Delaney Yaqona says it is important to stay grounded and not taking anything for granted as well as keeping the players fresh and fit.
“Player management is really important for us with the boys pulling up a bit sore after the first match.
“We use the rest days to focus on recovery is order to be able to come out strong in our next match against Lotoha’apai,” he said.
2019 OFC Champions League Qualifier
Kiwi FC [KIW] vs. Pago Youth [PAG]
Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Tuesday 29 Jan local (Wednesday 30 Jan NZ)
Kick-off: 14:30 local (13:30 NZ)
Referee: Ben AUKWAI (SOL)
Assistant Referee 1: Marc SINYEUE (NCL)
Assistant Referee 2: David CHARLES (PNG)
Fourth Official: Hamilton SIAU (SOL)
Team List: 1. Hengihengi IKUVALU (GK), 2. Zimri LAUVAO (GK), 3. Ueli TUALAULELEI, 4. JR. AMISONE, 5. Josiah TAANI, 6. Toa LANGKILDE, 7. PUNI SAMUELU, 8. Ben LIU, 9. Walter PATI, 10. Rambo TAPUI, 11. Milo TIATIA, 12. Palauni TAPUSOA, 13. Toeaso SOLA, 14. Afa SIONE, 15. Chris FAAMOANA, 16. Tea SIATUU, 19. Ryan SAMUELU, 20. Roy LEDOUX
Coach: Rambo TAPUI (American Samoa)
Team List: 1. Eti FATU (GK), 3. FEDERICO DIAZ, 4. Ken KEREWI, 5. Kitiona NAUER, 7. Jarell SALE, 9. Samuelo MALO, 10. Paul SCANLAN, 12. Timote FONI, 13. Lionel TAYLOR, 14. Lafi IOANE, 15. Lotial MANO, 16. Silao MALO, 17. Tavita TO’O, 18. Janardhan GOSWAMI, 19. Ansheil KUMAR, 21. Semu FAIMATA (GK)
Suspended: 6. Andrew SETEFANO, 11. Falaniko NANUMEA
Coach: Martin TAMASESE
For Live Stream click below
Tupapa Maraerenga [TUP] vs. Lotoha’apai United FC [LOT]
Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Saturday 29 Jan local (Sunday 30 Jan NZ)
Kick-off: 17:30 local (16:30 NZ)
Referee: Veer SINGH (FIJ)
Assistant Referee 1: Denson SALE (VAN)
Assistant Referee 2: Aswin RAJ (FIJ)
Fourth Official: Peter LINNEY (NZL)
Tupapa Maraerenga FC
Team List: 1. Tahiri ELIKANA (GK), 2 Mii JOSEPH, 3. Willynn KARIKA, 4. Tyrell BARRINGER-TAHIRI, 5. Ishaq NAZEEM, 6. Anthony SAMUELA, 7. Harlem SIMIONA, 8. Edward BROGAN, 9. Geoffrey STRICKLAND, 10. Grover HARMON, 11. Fauzul AHMED, 12. Pachok ABBA, 13. George KONUSI, 14. Pekay EDWARDS, 16. Ben MATA, 17. Lee HARMON, 18. Jared COLLIGAN, 20. Manaariki PIERRE (GK)
Coach: Delaney YAQONA (FIJ)
Lotoha’apai United FC
Team List: 1. Sinilau TAUFA (GK), 2. Simi MOIMOI, 3. Sione UHATAHI, 4. Oliveti VAI, 5. Laulea TAUFA, 6. Pua FALEPAPALANGI, 7. Tuia FALEPAPALANGI, 8. Maliele PAPANI, 9. Soakai VEA, 10. Hema POLOVILI, 11. Semisi OTUKOLO, 12. Vai LUTU, 13. Folauhola MESUI, 14. Pita HUNI, 15. Manu TU’ALAU, 16. Sitaleki FISI, 17. Timote FAKSIIEIKI, 18. David ANAU
Coach: Lui MUAVESI (FIJ)
For Live Stream click below