Six of the eight teams who will contest the OFC Champions League 2023 have been found after this weekend’s games, with Ifira Black Bird, AS Pirae and Suva FC winning the Vanuatu, Tahiti and Fiji National Play-Offs respectively.
Defence wins the day for Ifira
Ifira Black Bird made the perfect start to their second leg fixture at Luganville Soccer City Stadium after they took a 3-0 lead into their match with Siaraga (LFA) FC. A Godine Tenene chip over goalkeeper Greg Charlie in only the second minute of play was the only goal of the game, but given that the aggregate was a healthy one for Ifira, they could afford to simply park the bus for the remaining 88 minutes.
Tenene found himself completely unmarked as the ball was swept upfield off a goal kick. In fact, he had so much time he was able to take a touch and delicately place the ball over Charlie’s reach and into the back of the net. Siaraga certainly had their chances to strike back, particularly in the 23rd minute after a corner resulted in a fine strike by Steve Nona went just over the bar.
However, the four goal aggregate advantage that Ifira held was just too comfortable and coach Jean Robert Yelou’s instructions for his players to simply sit back and invite Siaraga to do their best to try and break them worked well. The current Port Vila Football League champions now move into the OFC Champions League 2023 main draw, at which they will hold a home field advantage.
IFIRA BLACK BIRD 1 (Godine TENENE 2′)
SIARAGA (LFA) FC 0
AS Pirae power past AS Dragon
While there was only one goal in the days early game, AS Pirae and AS Dragon turned on the attack in a remarkable 7-3 result at Stade Pater in Papeete. Pirae came in after a 2-0 win in the first leg, but any thoughts of parking the bus went out the window as they looked to qualify for the main draw with a healthier advantage,
In the 14th minute Pirae’s Tamatoa Tetauira opened the scoring with a great strike from outside the box. If that was impressive then Pirae’s captain Heimano Bourbare went one better only a couple of minutes later with a thunderous left footed strike from even further back that doubled their lead.
Tetauira headed in Pirae’s third just before halftime, by that stage the aggregate was 5-0 and the task looking impossible for Dragon.
But even that didn’t slow Pirae down, with Yohann Tihone scoring five minutes after the restart, then Tetauira claiming a well-deserved hat trick in the 66th minute. With the score at 5-0 they let Dragon back into the match, firstly a handball in the area gave a penalty chance that Roonui Tinirauarii converted to get them on the board. Tinirauarii followed that up with a second shortly after, nodding the ball in off a corner.
However, any thoughts of a comeback were dashed when Pirae strck back straight away with a goal to replacement Desire Ngiamba, then Benoit Mathon made it seven not long after. Dragon at least salvaged some pride with a stoppage time goal to Gervais Chan Kat.
AS PIRAE 7 (Tamatoa TETAUIRA 14’,41’, 66’, Heimano BAOURBARE 16’, Yohann TIHONI 50’, Desire NGIAMBA 79’, Benoit MATHON 86’)
AS DRAGON 3 (Roonui TINIRAURII 74’ pen, 78’, Gervais CHAN KAT 90+6’)
Suva lock in their main draw spot
Fiji representative at the OFC Champions League 2023 has been found, after Suva FC scored a 2-1win over Rewa FC to win 3-2 on aggregate. After a tense first leg that ended 1-1 and a goal less first half, Suva managed to strike after half time to pull away with the game.
The goal was a beauty from Solomon Islands player Marlon Tahioa, who positioned himself well at the back post to head home a wonderful cross by Ramzan Khan. It was a precarious lead though, as Rewa mounted attack after attack, with Suva doing well to remember that the first leg came down to a stoppage time equaliser.
But it was Suva who added the second, crucial goal. A ball through by Samuela Drudru saw three Suva players with all the time in the world to set up a shot for replacement Merill Nand. His shot ricocheted off Iowane Matanisiga into the back of the net and was credited as an own goal, however there was nothing the Rewa defender could have done otherwise.
From there Suva could relax a little, but Rewa weren’t quite finished, with a looping corner falling for Madwhan Gounder to send a low ball near the goal for Iosefo Verevou to backheel it in. While it was a classy way to end, the goal was too little, too late for Rewa who will watch Suva take the Fiji qualifying place in the OFC Champions League 2023 in Vanuatu.
SUVA FC 2 (Marlon TAHIOA 49’, Iowane MATANISIGA 80’ OG)
REWA FC 1 (Iosefo VEREVOU 90+3’)