The Pacific is a hive of football activity and a number of competitions and leagues are set to get underway across our Member Associations, while a handful are back in action following the holiday break.
The S-League will return in the Solomon Islands this weekend.
The competition has been on hold following a dispute over the use of Lawson Tama Stadium in Honiara but the Henderson Eels will continue their charge towards the title when they meet Honiara City on Sunday.
The Eels are nine points clear at the top of the ladder after 13 rounds with the Solomon Warriors in second on 25 points.
The Warriors will play Real Kakamora on Saturday and in other matches across the competition, Marist will meet the Malaita Kingz, Southern United will play Isabel United and Central Coast will tackle Laugu United next Wednesday night.
The league took a break from mid-November prior to the holiday season to allow the Solomon Cup to be played, which was won by Western Tomoko when they beat defending champions the Malaita Eagles 1-0 in the final.
In New Zealand, Auckland City FC moved to outright first place in the ISPS Handa Men’s Premiership standings following a 2-1 win over the Hamilton Wanderers on Saturday.
Team Wellington, who occupy second place, were held to a 2-2 draw by Hawke’s Bay United during the weekend, which allowed Auckland City to go clear.
Canterbury United moved into fifth in the eight-team league with a 1-0 win over the fourth-placed Eastern Suburbs AFC courtesy of a 75th minute goal from Jacob Richards.
“We knew, especially with the wind, that we’d have our backs against the wall in the first half. Despite that I think we created a couple of good chances, and the boys defended well,” Canterbury coach Lee Padmore said.
“In the second half we knew we could get on top of them a little bit more, which we did. Some will say that we sat a little bit deeper, but we played to our strengths and were able to score later on again and take the win, which we’re really happy with.”
In the final fixture of Matchweek 8, the Wellington Phoenix Reserves and Waitakere United played out a 1-1 draw. More information on the weekend’s results can be found here.
Papua New Guinea’s Women’s National Soccer League is back in full swing following the Christmas break.
FC Genesis are setting the pace in the Southern Conference with four wins from as many matches, while Poro FC have a perfect seven-from-seven record in the Northern Conference to sit at the top of the standings.
In Fiji, the Vodafone Premier League (VPL) will get underway next month.
Fiji Football Association Competitions Manager Amitesh Pal confirmed the fixture list has been released and the teams have started their preparation.
“We had a very competitive VPL competition last year and I am sure it will be more exciting this year,” Pal said.
“We are set to start the competition on the first week of February and the eight teams in the Premier Division are getting ready for the league.”
Suva are the defending champions and they will warm-up for the competition with a two-leg Champion v Champion series later this month against Labasa who won the Courts Inter-District Championship last year.
The VPL will begin on February 6 when Ba are scheduled to play Labasa at Subrail Park.
In the Cook Islands, they held a three-day beach soccer tournament last week as part of the Cook Islands Beach Games.
Tupapa’s Black Wolves met village rivals the White Wolves in the final and it was the Black Wolves who emerged victorious 2-1.
In the women’s final, Tupapa’s Ladies in Black beat the Spice Girls from Puaikura by the same scoreline.
Twenty-two teams took part in the event, which pleased Cook Islands Football Association Competitions Manager Pauline Dean.
“It was a successful three-day tournament considering it is the first of its kind here in the Cook Islands and we are looking forward to more tournaments for beach soccer in the years to come,” Dean said.
The Vanuatu Football Federation have completed their draw for the second edition of the National League Championship.
Defending champions Shefa are in Pool A alongside Port Vila, Malampa and Tafea. Pool B includes Sanma, Luganville, Torba and Penama.
The tournament begins on January 23 and teams will play each other once in the group stages with the top two advancing to the semi-finals.
The grand final is scheduled to be played on February 6.
For the first time, there will be a women’s division this year with Port Vila, Tafea, Shefa, Luganville, Sanma and Torba involved.
The women’s competition will be played across a round-robin format and will also begin this weekend.
Football Federation Samoa are taking registrations for their nine-a-side business house competition that will feature mixed teams. More information can be found on their Facebook page.
Meanwhile, Tiga Sport were crowned champions in New Caledonia last month as they finished at the top of the tree following the playoffs in the Mobil Super Ligue.
Tiga went through the finals series unbeaten and capped it off with a 2-0 win over AS Magenta; Horizon Patho finished second, ahead of defending champions Hienghène Sport, while Magenta were fourth.
In Tahiti, football will remain on hold until February 15 following a recent announcement from the High Commissioner of the Republic.
The coronavirus pandemic continues to cause problems in Tahiti and all of their football activities were placed on hold in November.