Pacific football news

Nadi are on a mission to defend their Football Association Cup Tournament crown. Photo Credit: Fiji FA Media

Christmas might be only a month away but there’s still plenty of football and futsal action taking place across OFC’s Member Associations.

In futsal news, the official draw for Fiji Football Association’s 2020 Inter District Championship (IDC) was completed at Suva’s ANZ Stadium on Sunday.

Defending champions Suva will headline Pool A alongside Vodafone Futsal League Southern Zone champions Navua, last year’s semi-finalists Rewa, Nadroga and Northern champions Labasa.

Last year’s runners-up Lami will face Nadi, Ba, Tailevu Naitasiri and Tavua in Pool B.

Fiji’s national futsal coach Mira Sahib said it shaped as a tough contest.

“This year we have increased the teams to 10 following a successful 2019 Vodafone Futsal IDC and I’m expecting more competitive and intense matches,” he said.

“Navua are one of the teams to watch after finishing top in the Southern Zone Vodafone Futsal League while Labasa also looks a strong side with all their district representatives.

“We cannot count out underdogs Tavua, Tailevu Naitasiri and Nadroga either, they will come prepared and eager to prove themselves.”

The tournament is scheduled to be held at the FMF Gymnasium in Suva in the first week of December.

Staying in Fiji, the 30th edition of the country’s Football Association Cup Tournament got underway during the weekend.

Ba defeated Nasinu 3-1 in the opening match of the tournament before Nadi edged past Lautoka thanks to Rusiate Matarerega’s first-half strike in Saturday’s double-header at Lautoka’s Churchill Park.

On Sunday, Rewa kicked off their campaign with a convincing 4-0 win over Labasa at ANZ Stadium, while Sairusi Nalaubu scored twice for Suva to help his side defeat Navua 4-1

The tournament will move to Labasa’s Subrail Park which will stage four consecutive matches on Wednesday.

Lautoka and Navua will kick off proceedings at 12pm FJT, followed by Ba’s clash with Rewa, before Suva face Nadi.

Wednesday’s action will conclude with the match between local hopefuls Labasa and Nasinu.

There are another four group matches scheduled for Thursday, before Saturday’s semi-finals and Sunday’s title decider.

In New Caledonia, Tiga Sport defeated defending champions Hienghène Sport 3-1 to leapfrog their rivals to the top of the Mobil Super Ligue at the conclusion of the weekend’s action.

Elsewhere, third-placed AS Magenta were forced to settle for a 1-1 stalemate with Ne Drehu, while AS Wetr thrashed Horizon Patho 5-1.

AS Lössi edged past JS Baco 2-1 and AS Mont-Dore defeated competition cellar dwellers AS Kunié 3-0 to conclude Round 9.

Meanwhile, the quarter-finals of the Caledonian Futsal Cup have also been completed with Olympic beating JS Traput 5-2 and AS Wetr defeating AS Kirikitr 10-6.

AS University secured their passage to this weekend’s semis with a 9-3 win over Ne Drehu while ASPTT crusied into the final four with a 7-0 triumph over Hienghène Sport.

In the Solomon Islands, the table-topping Henderson Eels were held to a 1-1 draw by Central Coast on Sunday.

Despite the draw, the Eels hold a nine-point lead over the Solomon Warriors who hammered Kossa 7-0 on Saturday. The Warriors also have a game in hand.

Central Coast are in third on the ladder, only trailing the Warriors on goal difference.

In the round’s other matches, Honiara City beat the Malaita Kingz 4-1 and Southern United squeezed past Real Kakamora 2-1. Laugu United were set to meet Isabel United on Wednesday evening.

The inaugural Solrais Women’s Premier League champions have been crowned after the RSIP Royals beat Naha FC 2-1 to secure the title.

In New Zealand, Auckland City FC won the Men’s Futsal SuperLeague crown after beating the Waikato Rapids 2-0 in Sunday’s grand final.

Hamish Grey and and captain Steve Ashby-Peckham scored for the Futsal Navy Blues as they marked their first national title in this form of the game.

Auckland City coach Nic Downes was pleased for his players, particularly Golden Glove and League MVP winner, Mike Antamanov.

“I’m lost for words. It’s amazing to win this competition. Today was a really tough day – we had a tough semi-final and final – both teams we came up against were quality opposition and to get through that is unbelievable, its fantastic,” Downes told Auckland City FC Media after the final.

“Mike Antamanov today was incredible. It’s fantastic to have a goalkeeper of that ability who can find another level. He made some key saves today but take nothing away from our outfielders they put everything into that.”

Auckland City FC celebrate their futsal title. Photo Credit: Phototek

In the 11-a-side game, Auckland City FC suffered a 2-0 defeat to the Hamilton Wanderers in the ISPS Handa Men’s Premiership on Sunday.

Hamilton’s win put them at the top of the ladder after two rounds, ahead of Team Wellington on goal difference. Team Wellington beat Hawke’s Bay United 2-1 during the weekend.

In other matches, the Wellington Phoenix Reserves beat Waitakere United 4-1 and Eastern Suburbs AFC topped Canterbury United 3-1.

In the ISPS Handa Women’s Premiership, Auckland Football Federation remain at the top of the table despite suffering their first defeat of the season as they went down 4-1 to the Northern Lights on Sunday.

The Lights’ win moved them to third, behind Canterbury United Pride who thumped Central Football Federation 6-0. Capital edged WaiBOP Football Federation 1-0 and Southern United had the bye.

In the Cook Islands, the Round Cup came to a close during the weekend as Tupapa Maraerenga FC put a bow on their title defence with a 3-1 win over Puaikura. Tupapa finished their successful campaign winning 12 of their 15 matches with two draws and only one defeat.

They earned a spot in the Qualifying Stage of next year’s OFC Champions League.

The winners in the respective grades from the Cook Islands are:

  • Premier Men – Tupapa Maraerenga
  • Senior Women – Puaikura
  • U-17 Men’s – Tupapa Maraerenga
  • U-15 Girls – Puaikura
  • U-14 Boys – Avatiu
  • U-12 Mix – Avatiu
  • U-9 Mix – Avatiu
  • U-7 Mix – Tupapa Maraerenga

The country now moves to their Knock-Out Competition, which gets underway this week across all grades.

In Tahiti, all football competitions, including Ligue 1, have been placed on hold due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The competition is scheduled to resume on December 19 but that is subject to change. Dragon are at the top of the standings with five wins from six matches, while Pirae is in second having won four from six.

Ends

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