Photo Credit: OFC Media via Tonga FA

The OFC Men’s Champions League 2024 kicks off this week in Tahiti and we continue our look at the eight teams who will be competing in Papeete. Vaivase-tai FC of Samoa head into the tournament as the winners of the Qualifying competition earlier this year, keen to make an impact.

Seven-time domestic champions, Vaivase-tai had never experienced an OFC club competition up until this year, entering the OFC Men’s Champions League 2024 – Qualifying as a bit of an unknown representative from Samoa.

Up against clubs with a wealth of experience on the international stage, the side made their presence felt immediately on match day one – powering their way past the experienced Cook Islands club Tupapa Maraerenga FC with a 4-0 victory.

Their second match against hosts Veitongo FC ended in a draw, ensuring the winner would be decided on the final day of the tournament in Tonga. The equation was simple for the Samoan side – win and win big. That’s exactly what they did, thrashing Vaiala Tonga SC from America Samoa 14-0, while Veitongo FC suffered a 3-2 defeat later that same day.

The emphatic victory secured the club’s first ever appearance at an OFC Men’s Champions League, where they will join Ifira Black Bird FC of Vanuatu, New Caledonia’s AS Magenta and host nation side in AS Pirae in Group B.

Preparations have been challenging for the Samoan side due to wet weather conditions in Apia but despite the setbacks, Vaivase-tai coach Horst Petana says the team are in “high spirits” ahead of their first ever OFC Men’s Champions League appearance.

“The boys are feeling good and are expecting very different circumstances than when they were in Tonga for the qualifiers. As much as were looking forward to the tournament, I’m expecting a tough tournament and hoping for the best for all teams,” stated Petana.
Players to Watch
Boasting eight international players in their team, there are a number of stand-out talents for Vaivase-tai FC. The left-hand-side combination of Alman Kwan and Dilo Tumua proved lethal in Tonga – between them the pair scored nine goals in the Qualifying stage.
Tumua’s talents don’t just lie on the pitch but on the court too, having competed for Samoa at the OFC Futsal Men’s Nations Cup last year, making his technical skills in tight spaces something to keep an eye on.