Wins for Marist and Tefana on the opening day of Group D action certainly puts them in good stead, but Rewa and Erakor Golden Star are still far from conceding the race to qualify for the 2017 OFC Champions League semi-finals.
Erakor Golden Star were impressive in their debut against hosts AS Tefana but after losing captain Brian Kaltack to a second caution, the structure of the backline weakened allowing Tahiti’s domestic champions to pull ahead.
The loss of Kaltack will again be evident when Erakor take on Solomon Islands club champions Marist, who showed skill and determination against Rewa to secure a 4-2 victory in their first match.
With the likes of Michael Boso, Atkin Kaua and Timothy Bakale to consider up front, Erakor will also have Kapuls defender Koriak Upaiga to consider, given his propensity to press forward.
Erakor coach Etienne Mermer may be down but he’s not out, believing his side has the mental strength to come out charging against Marist and notch their first victory.
“Our first match is now in the past and everything could change in the second game,” Mermer said.
“We can come back, and we will come back.”
Having notched a win in their first match since their return to the OFC Champions League’s modern format, Marist are out to make it a clean sweep.
But coach Juliano Schmeling remains realistic about what lies ahead.
“I think against Erakor it’s another final – we have three finals here,” he said.
“It will be a tough game, a different style of football but certainly tough.”
The late match at Stade Pater will see hosts AS Tefana welcome Rewa for their second OFC Champions League encounter and both sides are expecting it to be a tough one.
Tefana were impressive in their determination as they came from a goal down against Erakor to record a 4-2 victory and coach Sébastien Labayen will be expecting a similar performance come Tuesday.
“I’m generally satisfied with the team as a whole, they played well together and I think in terms of mentality we were ready, and physically we were ready,” Labayen said.
“We will concentrate mainly on ourselves. Our game plan, and our capacity to play the game we know we can.”
It’s a similar approach to that which Rewa will be adopting according to coach Marika Rodu.
Although their task is much tougher knowing they will be without two starters and defenders – Diego Maximo and Peniame Drova – who are both serving suspensions following their opening match sending offs.
“There were some tired bodies towards the end but we just lost the plot and that was the end,” Rodu recalled.
“It will be tough tomorrow because our opponent will have the home ground advantage, but we want to improve on our performance and result and result from the first match.”
Erakor Golden Star vs. Marist FC
Tuesday 14 March
Erakor Golden Star [VAN]
Vital Statistics: Reserve goalkeeper Chikau Mansale made 17 appearances in the OFC Champions League with previous club Amicale FC of Vanuatu.
The Players: Jacques Wanemut was impressive both in terms of his pressing on attack, and his ability to get back and defend. Jason Thomas will have to bring his extensive experience into play to cover the gap left by the suspended Brian Kaltack.
Coach Quote: “Even if Marist won their first match we have the players to win against them. Of course we won’t have our captain unfortunately, but I believe in my players, we can do something.”
Erakor Golden Star: 1. Serge DANIEL (GK), 3. Michell KALTAK, 4. Jacques WANEMUT, 5. Jason THOMAS, 6. Jesse KALOPONG, 7. Robert TOUKOUNE, 8. Kaltfer KALTAK, 9. Anderson TAKAU, 10. Kalserei ARSEN, 11. Nemani ROQUARA, 12. Gershom KALSONG, 13. Lucien HINGE, 14. Jean KALTAK, 15. Tonly KALOTANG, 16. Bernard DANIEL, 17. Jacky RUBEN, 18. Barry MANSALE, 19. Tony KALTACK, 20. Johnny KALORUS, 22. Chikau MANSALE (GK)
Suspended: 2. Brian KALTACK
Coach: Etienne MERMER (VAN)
Marist FC [SOL]
Vital Statistics: Guilherme Guedes was involved in three of Marist’s four goals in their opening match. He scored two and set-up a third.
The Players: Michael Boso proved outstanding in the centre of defence providing cover for the keeper while also being an outlet to feed the midfield and inspires quick counter attacks.
Coach Quote: “They will be very fast, very skilful players and we have prepared over the past two days for that.”
Marist FC: 1. Phillip MANGO (GK), 2. James EGETA, 3. Michael BOSO, 4. Andre MOROSINI, 5. Jeffery BULE, 6. Koriak UPAIGA, 7. Atkin KAUA, 8. Timothy BAKALE, 9. Guilherme GUEDES, 10. Rueben DOUGLAS, 11. Abraham INIGA, 12. Zantas KABINI (GK), 13. Robert LAUA, 14. Martin SALEIMANU, 17. Djair VEIGA, 20. Joel PAKA, 23. Thomas TALOGA
Coach: Juliano SCHMELING (BRA)
AS Tefana vs. Rewa FC
Tuesday 14 March
AS Tefana [TAH]
Vital Statistics: Tefana’s last encounter against a Fijian team was during the 2016 OFC Champions League when they faced Nadi in the group stage. They beat the Fijians 6-1 in that match.
The Players: Sylvain Graglia was unlucky not to get more goals on the board with several powerful efforts either being saved, hitting the post or just going wide of the target.
Coach Quote: “Each match is different and that’s how we look at things. We have concentrated on recovery and for the next match we intend to adopt a fresh approach.”
AS Tefana: 1. Stevens HIRIGA (GK), 2. Farearii TUTEINA, 3. Taumihau TIATIA, 4. Tehevarii LUDIVON, 5. Viritua TIAIHO, 6. Tunoa TEVAERAI, 7. Temarii TINORUA, 8. Jess HOROI, 9. Tehina TEMORERE, 10. Tautua LUCAS, 11. Sylvain GRAGLIA, 12. Alvin TEHAU, 13. Stanley ATANI, 14. Jonathan TEHAU, 15. Jean Claude CHANG KOEI CHANG, 16. Manutea TAAE, 18. Kaena ONUU, 19. Heimano BOUREBARE, 22. Nicolas VALLAR, 23. Moana PITO (GK), 25. Toriki GUYOT, 30. Lorenzo TEHAU
Coach: Sébastien LABAYEN (TAH)
Rewa FC [FIJ]
Vital Statistics: Rewa have lost two members of their starting line-up to suspension, both of them defenders.
The Players: Used to a front-line position, Iosefo Verevou did well from the midfield to apply pressure to the Marist backline while also offering support to his own defence.
Coach Quote: “A win will boost our performance and we may not be out yet. We’ll see how the games go and if we can’t come back somehow.”
Rewa FC: 1. Simione TAMANISAU (GK), 3. Lorima DAU, 4. Josaketi TAMUDU, 5. Mitieli MANUKA, 7. Usaia TADAU, 8. Marcelo TANNUS, 9. Iosefo VEREVOU, 10. Savenaca NAKALEVU, 11. Madhwan GOUNDER, 12. Tevita WARANAIVALU, 13. Kohei MATSUMOTO, 14. Epeli SAUKURU, 15. Elias SILVA, 16. Amani MAKOE, 17. Posiano KALISITO, 18. Taione KEREVANUA, 19. Vuniuni TIKOMAIMEREKE, 20. Samuela KAUTOGA, 21. Manasa WAQAVOU (GK)
Suspended: 2. Peniame DROVA, 6. Diego GALVAO
Coach: Marika RODU (FIJ)