The team lists have been submitted for the OFC Champions League 2018 Qualifier as the countdown to the first matches on Saturday 20 January (local) continues.
Although the domestic title changed hands from Puaikura to Tupapa Maraerenga, some familiar faces will return to international competition in new colours.
Striker Campbell Best and midfielder Grover Harmon will be back in black alongside New Zealand-based players Maro Bonsu-Maro, Tyrell Barringer-Tahiri, and Samuel Maoate-Cox.
Tupapa also have some young blood in the side courtesy of youth internationals Lee Harmon and Manaariki Pierre who will inject youth as well as gain some vital experience of their own.
As Lupe Ole Soaga make their third appearance in the Qualifier, they too have retained a core base of players from the 2017 edition which they are expecting to see them continue their run of qualifying for the Group Stage of the region’s premier international club competition.
Paul Ualesi is once again at the reins with goalkeeper Faalavelave Matagi holding down the fort at one end, while speedster Lapalapa Toni takes care of business at the front. Defender Andrew Setefano is back playing for a club in his native Samoa after a stint in New Zealand while Solomon Islander Michael Fifi’i is expected to add some flair through the middle of the park.
Tonga club champions Veitongo have taken a mix of youth and experience in the hopes this will be their year. Sione Uhatahi is among one of the few players in the region to have appeared in every edition of the Qualifier since 2012, although he’s yet to achieve the success he desires.
U-17 international Viliami Tukia will make his regional club debut, while Soakai Vea is another young player hoping to further raise the profile of Tongan football.
Pago Youth have had a couple of outings in the Qualifier, making their debut the same year American Samoa hosted the event for the first time in 2013.
This year’s the team has an air of familiarity thanks to internationals Paul Collins, Ryan Samuelu and Ruben Luvu Jnr, however the majority of the side will be new names to most fans outside American Samoa.
While Pago Youth have yet to win a Qualifier encounter, coach Liátama Amisone Jnr will no doubt be hoping it will be third time lucky with this squad.
To view the team lists, click here