Photo Credit OFC Media via Phototek

Fiji’s representative at the upcoming OFC Women’s Champions League, Labasa Women FC, acknowledge they face a massive hurdle just to get out of their group in Honiara next month.

The Fiji champions were a disappointment at last year’s inaugural tournament held in Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea, finishing fourth out of the five competing teams and managing just one win from their four matches at the tournament.

There’s a new coach this year with Roneel Ram in charge of a similar squad that is big on experience and stacked with internationals. Labasa’s attack will be spearheaded by Sofi Diyalowai who had a strong campaign for her country at the recent Women’s Olympic Football Tournament – Oceania Qualifier in Samoa.

In fact, seven of national coach Angeline Chua’s squad will be lining up for Labasa Women FC in Honiara, including national captain Unaisi Tuberi. Three other players; Shayal Sindhika, Vanisha Kumar and Ema Mereia were in the Fiji squad that finished runners-up at the Pacific Games in December.

However, it’s been a difficult build-up for Labasa with their preparation hampered by a lack of full squad training and poor weather.

“The majority of my players were in the national team and around five live and work in Suva. As a result, we couldn’t have full squad training. To be honest we have been struggling to put ourselves together. The weather has not been in our favour and it’s a well-known fact that Labasa has suffered from flooding in the past two weeks. All this has really hindered our preparation,” Ram lamented.

Labasa starting 11. OFC Women’s Champions League 2023, Hekari United FC v Labasa Women FC, Sir Hubert Murray Stadium, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, Saturday 10th June 2023. Photo: Shane Wenzlick /

Labasa Women FC are in Group B alongside New Zealand’s Auckland United FC, Tonga’s Veitongo FC, and the defending champions from New Caledonia, AS Academy Féminine.

“Whenever we have a national competition it’s not easy. All teams come prepared and are there to try their best. Being grouped with Auckland United and the defending champions will be a mammoth task but we will try our best,” Ram added.

That said Ram has set high goals for the team who will be banking on the experience gained from last year’s competition in Papua New Guinea.

“This year we have a different approach to the tournament. Last year was the inaugural tournament as many of us were not aware of the expectations. However, we now know the level of club competition in the region and we have a positive mind set. The aim is to at least qualify for the knockout stages.”