We are profiling the eight teams who will compete for the OFC Champions League 2023 title in Vanuatu next month. This week we look at Samoan side Lupe Ole Soaga SC.
Founded in 2011, Lupe Ole Soaga SC played in second tier of the Samoa National League during the 2011–12 season where they finished runners-up to Vaimoso. They were promoted to the Samoa National League which they won in a dominant first season in the top division, clinching the Samoa Cup as well.
At the OFC Champions League 2020, they became the first Samoan team to win an OFC Champions League group stage match, defeating Fiji’s Ba FC 4-3, at Stade Mahina in Tahiti.
How Lupe Ole Soaga SC qualified for the 2023 OFC Champions League
Apia played host to the OFC Champions League Qualifying tournament in February pitting Lupe Ole Soaga against teams from Tonga, American Samoa and the Cook Islands. They started off the tournament with an emphatic 13-0 win over Ilaoa & To’omata from American Samoa with star forward Michael Leo netting five times. A 9-0 win over Tonga’s Veitongo FC followed before Lupe dispatched Cook Islands side Tupapa Maraerenga FC 7-1 in their final game to book their place in Vanuatu where they will play their Group matches at the Luganville Soccer City Stadium.
The coaches approach and hopes for the tournament
Lai Tautiaga: “We have a lot of changes to the team who won the qualifying tournament and are coming to Vanuatu for the experience. For our debutants it will be a great experience and learning curve for the players. I guess it’s rebuilding with our young lads. We are reshuffling positions as well but our reputation and our local leagues reputation is on the line too.”
Star Player: Vito Laloata
The 25 year old striker has played for Hekari United in Papua New Guinea and returns to the Lupe side having missed the qualifying campaign in Apia. Laloata is experienced and will be a key source of support for the younger players in the squad.
Lupe Ole Soaga SC Fixtures (Luganville) – kick-off times Vanuatu local.
Sunday 14 May: v Suva FC, KO: 15:00
Wednesday 17 May : v Solomon Warriors, KO: 12:00
Saturday 20 May: v Auckland City FC, KO: 12:00