Hosts Solomon Warriors and Auckland City are in the driving seat to secure a spot in the quarterfinals heading into match day two of Group D in the OFC Champions League 2019 on Wednesday in Honiara, Solomon Islands.
Currently sitting atop of Group D equaled on three points, Solomon Warriors and Auckland City may possibly seal a place in the last eight with victories in the midweek fixtures.
Standing in the way of the hosts is a resilient AS Magenta side who has nothing to lose despite their opening day defeat to Auckland City.
Like the duo, a win for the francophone outfit will certainly put them back into the contention for the top two qualifying spots in the group.
Solomon Warriors coach Moses Toata said atmosphere in the camp is buzzing after their big win against Tupapa Maraerenga on Sunday.
“Obviously at the moment our spirits are high, having won our first game quite convincingly,” he said.
“After looking at the sides we’re going to play in the next few days, we have Magenta coming up on Wednesday, which for me is a hard one.
“In fact, our aim now is to qualify, and to qualify that means we have to win the next match against Magenta, so we will be giving all our best to make sure that we get the three points out of that game.”
Toata is anticipating a fierce battle with their opponents based on quality AS Magenta have in its locker.
“I think Magenta is a good side, having watched them not only from Saturday’s game, but I have been following that team for quite a while.
“I think they have a very young side, most of their players I know very well who played for Lossi FC last year, and for their national U-23, so I know their quality, I think they will give us a good run for the money on Wednesday,” the former Solomon Islands international added.
AS Magenta will be playing their second away match in Honiara for the second year running.
The New Caledonia club side held Marist FC at Lawson Tama Stadium last season and fast forward few months later, the scenario is a do-or-die against the Warriors on familiar territory.
AS Magenta coach Alain Mozian said it’s now or never for his team’s ambitions in the OFC Champions League this season.
“The calculation is simple, if we want to qualify we need to win on Wednesday,” he said.
“If we win, we qualify, if Warriors win, they qualify. It’s simple. If we draw, if it’s a draw between Warriors and us, we’ll have to wait for the final match, Warriors against Auckland.
“We hope that Auckland will win and that we put plenty of goals past Tupapa.
“Everything will be decided Wednesday, that’s certain. We’re going out there to win – there’s no if we win great, if we lose too bad.”
Nine-times Oceania champions Auckland City passed their first test in the group opener with a crucial win over AS Magenta and another win against Tupapa Maraerenga on Wednesday would cement their place in the quarterfinals.
The Navy Blues felt the brunt of the humid conditions in Honiara on Sunday, so players’ recovery is the key leading up to the clash with Tupapa Maraerenga.
Auckland City coach Ramon Tribulietx said his backroom staff has been working tirelessly to get their players fresh for the next game.
“At the moment we are trying to recover from a very exhausting effort,” he said.
“The game was physically very demanding, playing at one o’clock it was very hot and some players struggled to get through the 90 minutes, it was a very intense effort, again it was a very demanding physical from us.
“Right now it’s about making sure that they’re recovery is good and tomorrow we’ll have a look at the playing squad and see how everyone’s feeling, and seeing which players are in a better situation for that second game, bearing in mind that we have another game against the Solomon Warriors who had a very strong win yesterday.
“They’re a very good side and that game is obviously going to be a decider for the group, the last game against them, but first thing is this next game, make sure that we understand which players are in the best condition to face this second game against Tupapa.”
The Spaniard stressed he respects Tupapa Maraerenga despite a big loss at the hands of the hosts on match day one.
He stated it’s always tricky to play against a defensive teams because there are many players behind the ball.
“Obviously they had a bad game yesterday, that’s life sometimes, how it goes, so that can be tricky for us, maybe after that loss they want to get out there on Wednesday and have a strong performance against us so we definitely have to respect them.
“We need to make sure we respect them regardless, that’s how we’ve always gone about things, and again we expect them to be putting out their strong defensive performance, trying to stop us from creating many opportunities,” Tribulietx explained.
Tupapa Maraerenga coach Delaney Yaqona said his young side is low on confidence due to the heavy defeat on the opening day.
The Fijian encouraged his players’ to leave nothing in the tank against the most successful club in Oceania since another defeat will all but seal their fate of exiting the competition in the group phase.
“It’s very disappointing the game on Sunday, and obviously the mindset takes quite a lot to build it back up again,” he said.
“I mean the game coming up on Wednesday will be a true test of character this team, the boys are a bit down but I’ve said to them you can deal with it in one or two ways, you could be down about it, or you could pick yourself up and get ready for the next game and that’s what what we’re trying to do.
“Now it’s all about getting the spirits back up again and getting into the right mind set to take on Auckland FC.
“It’s going to be a really hard game, we’ve got no disillusions about that but we get to play football as I’ve said from the beginning, and the boys know they’ve got a job to do, and it’s about making sure we’re getting everything right as we’re heading to that game.”
The inspirational Tupapa coach stated that he has a fair idea of how Auckland City will approach the game.
“We’ve watched them play, I’ve told the boys, given the weather conditions.
“I have a feeling they’re going to come at us very hard at the beginning, trying to get a couple of goals, and so making sure we’re keeping our structure right at the beginning of the game, and try and ease into the game a lot better than we did in the last game, because we leaked a few goals early on in the game that put us on the back foot, so we’re really looking at starting the game a lot stronger,” Yaqona added.
Tupapa Maraerenga vs. Auckland City
Wednesday 27 February 2019
Lawson Tama Stadium
Honiara, Solomon Islands
Referee: Sione MAU (AMS)
Assistant Referee 1: Tevita MAKASINI (TGA)
Assistant Referee 2: Colin LUWONG (PNG)
Fourth Official: Timothy NIU (SOL)
Tupapa Maraerenga: 1. Tahiri ELIKANA, 2. Mii JOSEPH, 3. Willyn KARIKA, 4. Tyrell BARRINGER-TAHIRI, 5. Ishaq NAZEEM, 6. Anthony SAMUELA, 7. Harlem SIMIONA, 8. Edward BROGAN, 9. Geoffrey STRICKLAND, 10. Grover HARMON, 13. George KONUSI, 14. Pekay EDWARDS, 15. Roimata KARIKA, 17. Lee HARMON, 19. Peni KITIONA, 20. Manaariki PIERRE
Coach: Delaney YAQONA (Fiji)
Auckland City: 1. Enaut ZUBIKARAI, 2. Darren WHITE, 5. Angel BERLANGA, 7. Cameron HOWIESON, 8. Albert RIERA, 10. Micah LEA’ALAFA, 11. Fabrizio TAVANO, 12. Dylan MANICKUM, 14. Jordan VALE, 15. Daniel MORGAN, 16. Yousif ALI, 17. Reid DRAKE, 18. Ruben PARKER, 19. David BROWNE, 20. Te Atawhai HUDSON-WIHONGI, 21. Maro BONSU-MARO, 22. Omar GUARDIOLA, 23. Alfie ROGERS
Coach: Ramon TRIBULIETX (Spain)
Solomon Warriors vs. AS Magenta
Wednesday 27 February 2019
Lawson Tama Stadium
Honiara, Solomon Islands
Referee: Joel HOPKEN (VAN)
Assistant Referee 1: Hilmon SESE (VAN)
Assistant Referee 2: Folio MOEAKI (TGA)
Fourth Official: David YAREBOINEN (PNG)
Solomon Warriors: 1. Phillip MANGO, 2. Haddis AENGARI, 3. Allen PETER, 4. Aengari GAGAME, 5. Fred FAKARI, 6. Molea TIGI, 7. Atkin KAUA, 8. John ALICK, 9. Jerry DONGA, 11. Robert LAUA, 14. Augustine SAMANI, 15, Alvin HOU, 16. Emmanuel POILA, 20. Harry MASAE, 22. Bata FURAI, 24. Kensi TANGIS, 26. Loea MANI, 28. Timothy MAEARASIA
Coach: Moses TOATA (Solomon Islands)
AS Magenta: 1. Steeve IXOEE, 2. Jean Christ WAJOKA, 3. Jean Brice WADRIAKO, 4. Gaeton GOPE-IWATE, 5. Mickael TIAOU, 6. Iler HNAUK, 7. Kevin MAITRAN, 8. Nathanael HMAEN, 9. Emile OUNEI, 10. Richard SELE, 11. Shene WELEPANE, 13. Jean-Marie HMALOKO, 15. Didier SIMANE, 16. Nicodem HMAEN, 17. Yorick HNAUTRA, 18. Leon WAHNAWE, 21. Wilsen POAMENO
Coach: Alain MOIZAN (France)