OFC Champions League Group B goes down to the wire as leaders AS Central Sport taking on hosts Lautoka FC and Henderson Eels eying a historic quarterfinal appearance when they play FC Morobe Wawens on Saturday at Churchill Park in Lautoka, Fiji.
AS Central Sport are heading into the final match day with a foot already in the knockout stage after two wins in the group with a superior goal difference.
Hosts Lautoka FC on other hand are facing a must win scenario coming off an upset against Henderson Eels who are still in contention for the last eight with three points after match two day.
As it stands, all three teams could finish with six points and the goal differential rule might be taking into account to decide the top two positions.
Kicking off the match day three fixtures is a Melanesian clash between Henderson Eels and FC Wawens.
With the group fairly posed, Henderson Eels coach Eddie Marahare said his team needs noting but a win to keep their hopes alive in the competition.
“I think we all are looking forward to tomorrow’s game because we need maximum points after beating Lautoka,” he said.
“We know that we do have a chance to qualify for the quarterfinals if we win the game tomorrow, so we’re looking forward to it.”
FC Morobe Wawens coach Peter Purari said despite a winless run in the competition they are determined to finish their debut on a high note.
“We can’t go out bowing down but at least we make our mark in the competition,” he said.
“It’s our first time but we have really enjoyed playing in this OFC tournament. I told the players that we have to score goals in tomorrow’s game.
“We need to at least score a goal to put our mark out there in the OFC Championship as a first timer.
“Playing the Solomon Islanders tomorrow, watching them play against Lautoka, they are a very good side but we’ll give our best and at the end of 90 minutes we’ll find out where we stands.”
The most crucial match in the group will see hosts Lautoka looking to bounce back against AS Central Sport.
AS Central Sport coach Efrain Araneda said his team will go for the win despite facing a strong Lautoka side in an unfamiliar territory for the Tahiti Ligue 1 champions.
“For us it’s a very important game, we got six points just behind us Lautoka and Henderson Eels have three points each,” he said.
“So this game is really primary for the future, if we draw or win we qualify and the most important thing is we finish first. The goal is clear as we are looking for victory.
“It will be a difficult game because Lautoka get the pressure. They miss their last game but in our position is we need to stay focus on our objective, get the qualifying spot so we going to do our best to win this game.”
Araneda stressed that hosting a quarterfinal fixture at home is the motivation behind wanting to finish top of the group.
“The motivation we got is to play our quarterfinal at home in Tahiti and why not keep going in the competition.
“We hope to offer that to our public and play behind them on April 6th.”
It’s a do-or-die for last season’s semifinalists Lautoka with only a win would put them back into contention.
Lautoka coach Kamal Swamy echoed that it is a must win for his team knowing very well what is at stake.
“Looking at tomorrow’s game we can see that we have a chance to win and qualify so that is the focus in the camp now,” he said.
“We had already talk to them about tomorrow’s game and we told the players that we have to forget about the last game to switch our focus back on the next game.
“We’ll we need to win the game to qualify for the quarterfinals. That is our aim and that’s what we are going to do.
“It’s a must win for Lautoka and we need to at least win by three goals to qualify.”
Swamy revealed his backroom staff has a game plan in place to get maximum points against the Tahiti champions.
“We have seen their games, we have come up with a plan and we’re sure that plan will work if the players do the right things. It will be a good and we should win.
“I always talk to them like no one is indispensable, so we have been winning games all the while throughout last year, this year and everybody is after us.
“So after the loss we have come back to ground level, we look at ourselves, we have made mistakes, let’s raise up and show what we can do,” Swamy stated.
Henderson Eels vs FC Morobe Wawens
Saturday 16 February 2019
Referee: Sione LELENGA (TGA)
Assistant Referee 1: Marc SINYEUE (NCL)
Assistant Referee 2: Denson SALE (VAN)
Fourth Official: Antony RILEY (NZL)
Henderson Eels: 1. Desmond TUTU (GK), 2. GrahamTANAVOLE, 3. Boni PRIDE, 4. Derick TAEBO, 5. Freddie KINI, 7. Obed OFEA, 8. Rodney SURI, 9. Jimmy RARAMANE, 10. Tuti Zama TANITO, 12. Clement BAEGENI, 15, Joses NAWO, 16. Rollence MISITANA, 17, Andrew RARANGIA, 18. Rolland MAMANIKA, 19. Hudson FELANI, 20. Augustine TAGANA, 23. Raynick LAETA, 25. Joel NANAGO (GK)
Coach: Eddie MARAHARE (SOL)
FC Morobe Wawens: 1. Alois JOHN, 2. Kenneth PALAILO, 3. Nathaniel MCLEOD, 4. Moses KAMAKENG, 5. Russel KAMBAKA, 6. Giwi Simon MUWANZ,I7. Michael SAUN, 8. Francis ISOM, 9. Joshua PANGET, 10. Elliot FONI, 11. Bernard PURARI, 12. Donatus BANDI, 13. Alu AWI, 14. Jason FARROCK, 17. Ferdallas NAMUESH, 18. Clarence YORRIS, 20. Jason BENDI, 21. William Israel NAPO
Coach: Peter PURARI (PNG)
Lautoka FC vs AS Central Sport
Saturday 16 February 2019
Referee: Nick WALDRON (NZL)
Assistant Referee 1: Jeremy GARAE (VAN)
Assistant Referee 2: Isaac TREVIS (NZL
Fourth Official: Calvin BERG (NZL)
Lautoka FC: 3. Zibraaz Hanif SAHIB, 4. Afraz ALI, 5. Poasa BAINIVALU, 6. Jone VESIKULA, 7. Dave RADRIGAI, 8. Kavaia RAWAQA, 9. Benjamin TOTORI, 10. Samuela NABENIA, 11. Zainal ALI, 13. Muni Shivam NAIDU, 14. Samuela Junior DRUDRU, 15. Osea VAKATALESAU, 16. Daniel ALLAN, 17. Kolinio Vakarauvanua SIVOKI, 19. Bong KALO, 20. Mataiasi TOMA, 22. Beniamino Mojito MATEINQARA, 23. Viliame Nadani TABUCALA
Coach: Kamal SWAMY (FIJ)
AS Central Sport: 1. Tetahio TERIINOHOPUAITERAI (GK), 2. Christian TEPAU (GK), 4. Teiki KANANOU, 7. Sylvain GRAGLIA, 8. Manutahi TETARIA, 9. Cesar CASTILLO, 10. Manuarii HAUATA, 13. Philippe PENI, 15. Pierre BAKO, 16. Mikael ROCHE, 17. Diego ARANEDA, 19. Heinui KWONG, 20. Georges BEARUNE, 22. Herehaunui FERRAND, 23. Lorenzo TEHAU, 24. Jacques WAMYTAN, 25. Peter BABKA
Coach: Efrain ARANEDA (TAH)