After coming so close last year, AS Magenta coach Alain Moizan will be hoping his side can go all the way and secure the top prize in Oceania’s club football.
Their narrow defeat to rivals Hienghene Sport in the 2019 all-New Caledonian title decider is still fresh in Moizan’s memory as he prepares his players to embark on a brand new continental campaign.
The road for regional supremacy for Magenta will begin in the familiar surroundings of Stade Numa Daly, the club’s home ground in Noumea, which will be the venue for their opening match against AS Tiare Tahiti on Wednesday night.
As the hosts of Group C, last year’s runners-up will have every reason be confident of advancing to the knockout stages of the tournament.
The withdrawal of Cook Islands qualifiers Tupapapa Maraerenga from the competition means Group C has only three competing teams left, with the Solomon Warriors the other side to make up the trio.
With such small margin for error, the local favourites will be acutely aware that they can’t afford a slip up against the Tahitians, who have opened their campaign with a 1-0 defeat to the Solomon Islanders in Sunday’s Group C opener.
Despite AS Magenta’s stature, history and reputation, Moizan insists his side can’t take anything for granted.
“The most difficult thing is to win. Every year we start again from zero, last year was one thing, this year is something else,” the former French international midfielder explained.
“As always, the qualification for the next round will be a tough challenge but our aim is to beat Tiare Tahiti and Solomon Warriors, like we did beat them last year,” added the AS Magenta coach.
Following Hienghene Sport’s shock exit from Group A in Port Moresby, AS Magenta are the only New Caledonian club left to fly the country’s flag in Oceania’s premier club football competition in 2020.
“Regarding the elimination of Hienghene, I don’t know how they prepared and they’re the only ones who can explain what went wrong. For us, we will use it as motivation and try to motivate ourselves to do as well as possible,” explained Moizan.
With the new domestic season in New Caledonia yet to kick off, Magenta also faced limited opportunities to prepare according their coach.
“We only played four friendly games but against local teams who have just started their trainings. The only high intensity match was on Wednesday against the national team who have helped us out by giving us a good work-out,” added the Magenta coach.
AS Magenta will kick off their OFC Champions League 2020 campaign against AS Tiare Tahiti on Wednesday at 8:00pm local time in Noumea’s Stade Numa Daly.
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