Lupe Ole Soaga SC have qualified for the group stages of the OFC Champions League 2020 following a 0-0 draw with Tupapa Maraerenga FC in Auckland on Tuesday.
Tupapa Maraerenga FC 0-0 Lupe Ole Soaga SC
The Samoan side had the better of the contest and looked the most likely to put a goal on the board – particularly during the second half – but Tupapa were able to repel their advances.
Tupapa goalkeeper Tahiri Elikana was kept busy throughout the match but Lupe also didn’t test him as much as they would have liked.
In the end, a draw was all Lupe needed to advance from the Qualifying Stage after they opened the three-team qualifying tournament with a 2-0 win over Veitongo FC on Saturday.
“We are so happy with the result,” Lupe coach Paul Ualesi said. “I know we did not get the win, but a draw takes us through to the next stage of the tournament – congratulations to my boys.
“This was much better than the first game.”
Lupe skipper Andrew Setefano led from the front for his team, while fellow defender Suivai Ataga was busy throughout the contest.
Setefano could have given his side the victory with a powerful header from a corner in the dying stages but it was cleared off the line.
Tupapa coach Anthony Samuela was left to lament the lack of strike power up front from the Cook Islands club.
“It’s not the result that we wanted but it’s alright. A game’s a game, so we move forward as a team,” Samuela said.
“Just the front third, we just need to put it away. We got a few chances but just couldn’t put it away.”
Tuesday’s result means Friday’s final match between Veitongo and Tupapa in Auckland will decide which other team grabs a spot in the group stages of this year’s Champions League.
The winner of the Qualifying Stage will join Group D in the Champions League which includes Auckland City FC (New Zealand), Ba FC (Fiji) and AS Venus (Tahiti). The runner-up will enter Group C featuring AS Magenta (New Caledonia), AS Tiare Tahiti (Tahiti) and the Solomon Warriors (Solomon Islands).
Ualesi said he hoped to have New Zealand-based imports Matthew Chant and Zane Green available for the group stages.
Chant scored once in their win over Veitongo, while Green kept two clean sheets in goal during the Qualifying Stage.
Ualesi didn’t rule out adding further imports, if they could find the right player.
“We are still looking for a good one to try and build up our team.”