Malampa Revivors will return to the OFC Champions League after claiming back the 7 Member Associations National Super League title with a 5-1 victory over Malnaruru at Chapui Soccer City Stadium in Luganville on Saturday afternoon.
The Revivors needed a minimum four goals against Malnaruru to ensure their place at the top of the standings ahead of Vaum United, and a hat-trick for Vanuatu international Claude Aru certainly helped when it came to achieving that goal.
The win was the culmination of five days of intense competition organised by Vanuatu Football Federation in Luganville with seven Member Associations from across Vanuatu, excluding Port Vila, participating in the Digicel Vanuatu sponsored competition.
The five participating clubs included Medics from Tafea Province, Malnaruru from Shefa, the two winners from Luganville in the previous NSL stage Malampa Revivors and Vaum United, and AS Concord from Penama Province.
Vaum United were coached by Kaison Maki and Vital Bong, who assisted the Vanuatu side at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Korea last year, fielded mostly young players from Luganville including U-20 and U-17 representatives and members of the Northern Region Academy.
Despite posting some positive results over the course of the five days, Vaum were just one point short of the title, finishing behind Malampa Revivors.
Malnaruru with coach Wilson August and Lencie Fred in the management had Ronaldo Wilkins in the squad along with several of his Vanuatu U-20 teammates. The side started well, beating Luganville champions Vaum 2-1 on the first day of the competition, but then went down to Medics on Day 2 before falling to Malampa Revivors and eliminating any hope of representing their province at the OFC Champions League in 2019.
Despite losing their last match to Vaum by a slim margin, Medics made the most of the local talented players from Tafea Football Association some of whom had never played in any international tournament nor were seen in any top flight league in Vanuatu. However Medics were able to breakdown Malnaruru’s defence in their second match to record at least positive performance.
AS Concord with assistance from Luganville-based Tafea Football Club coach Tiel Joses and its players were competitive, having players like Justin Koka and the local talents from their home province, hopefully taken the opportunity to use the experience to hit back in 2019.
The NSL will finish off with Malampa Revivors playing the Port Vila champion in the final where the winner will become Vanuatu club champion.
The result will also determine who is Team 1 and Team 2 for Vanuatu in the draw of OFC Champions League 2019.