Western United and Malampa Revivors are both eager to earn their first points when they meet in their midweek clash before Lae City Dwellers and Auckland City FC face off for a spot at the top of the table on the second day of action in Group C of the OFC Champions League at Mangere Centre Park in Auckland on 15 March.
After dropping the lead in the final minutes of their opening match against Auckland City, Western United are holding their heads high after an impressive performance and coach Commins Menapi is feeling more confident than ever heading into their 1pm fixture against Malampa Revivors.
“If we continue with our focus and concentration and learn from what we did against Auckland City then it will be a good game on Wednesday against Malampa,” he said.
“Malampa have got a lot of energetic players so we will have to be careful about how we attack and defend against them.
“We need to be more effective in attack and how we organise in our attack but I know the boys are ready.”
Still overwhelmed and humbled to be participating in the OFC Champions League, Malampa Revivors assistant coach Steven Ham has full focus on improving the side’s weaknesses to ensure they give their best in their second ever match of the competition.
“We’ve tried our best to prepare ourselves, especially our mentality, ahead of our game on Wednesday,” he said.
“We are preparing our defensive game and how we defend the opposition, but also our striking. We are trying our best to improve our finishing and try to put our system in place so we can put in a good game against Western United.
“We know Western are a really strong but we will give our best.”
The second match will see the winners of day one battle for the top spot in Group C at 4pm, and with only one contender progressing on to the semi-finals, both Auckland City FC and Lae City Dwellers will be throwing everything into claiming the three crucial points.
After a dominant performance against Malampa Revivors that saw them claim their first win in this competition, Lae City Dwellers coach Peter Gunemba is polishing off certain areas ahead of their big clash with Auckland City, but believes his side is fully capable of defeating the six-time consecutive champions.
“They are the top team in the Oceania region and it’s going to be a big task but we will see how we go against them,” he said.
“We played them last year and we have a fair idea about how they play so we have to adjust ourselves and come up with a plan to counter attack them.
“In the first half I’ll look at the strength of our team and I’ll decide from there what we should do, but at this moment I can tell you that we are not scared, we are prepared to play them.
“I’m actually feeling quite relaxed and I’m looking forward to Wednesday.”
Auckland City coach Ramon Tribulietx is hoping to see an improvement after their very close battle with Western United, well aware of the depth of talent in the Lae City Dwellers squad after their 2-1 victory against the Papua New Guinean club in the 2016 OFC Champions League.
“We’ve seen them play before, we played them last year with most of the same players, so we understand these teams that are more focused and developed individually,” he said.
“They’ve got three or four players up front that are one-on-one very good, very fast, so we understand it is going to be very difficult.
“We understand from our last game that if we don’t switch on to 100 per cent, it can turn around nasty, so hopefully we’ve learned our lesson.”
Western United vs. Malampa Revivors
Mangere Centre Park
Auckland, New Zealand
Wednesday 15 March
Western United [SOL]
Vital Statistics: Western United proved a worthy contender in their opening match against Auckland City, leading the game 1-0 deep into the second half, only conceding in the 75th minute from a set piece. The competition favourites were unable to break the Solomon club’s backline in standard play, only finding the back of the net again from the penalty spot.
The Players: Solomon Islands national team player James Naka shocked an Auckland City home crowd in their opening match on Saturday when he scored the first goal to give Western United the lead. The opportunity came from a free kick from fellow Solomon Islands national team player Henry Fa’arodo. The two pieced together several other dangerous combinations throughout the 90 minutes.
Coach Quote: “After what we did against Auckland City, if we continue to work like that, especially in the first half, then I don’t see any problem playing against the next two teams.”
Western United: 1. Fabrizio PRATTICO (GK), 2. Aleck WICKHAM, 3. George KAKAI, 4. Cecil BURU, 5. Freddie KINI, 6. Matson FENI, 7. Paul WALE, 8. Henry FAARODO, 9. Benjamin TOTORI, 10. Atana FAARODO, 11. Joachim WAROI, 12. Anderson DOEDOKE, 13. James NAKA, 14. Moffat KILIFA, 15. Brian PETER, 16. Gagame FENI, 18. Nicholas TARAITO, 19. Lenson BISILI, 20. Anthony TALO (GK), 21. Abraham MAEZAMA, 22. Joses NAWO, 23. Molis GAGAME.
Suspensions: 17. Nelson SALE.
Coach: Commins MENAPI (SOL)
Malampa Revivors [VAN]
Vital Statistics: After three late substitutions in their opening match, nine Malampa Revivors players are yet to make the OFC Champions League debut, leaving very little for opponents Western United to consider as preparation for the match.
The Players: Captain John Alick proved dominant in the middle of the park in Malampa Revivors’ debut against Lae City Dwellers last Saturday. The midfielder used his impressive height and reach to win anything in the air and on the ground, shutting down the Lae City Dwellers attack. His accurate distribution to the Malampa Revivors attack put their Papua New Guinean opponents under pressure many times throughout the match.
Coach Quote: “We will prepare hard because we really want to win one of our games. We know it’s our first time here but we really want to win at least one of the three. We’re looking forward to seeing how Western United perform and we will try again to put a good team on the field for them to fight against.”
Malampa Revivors: 1. Jimmy LUKAI (GK), 2. Anthony MAAN, 3. Ismael SAM, 4. Greg BANI, 5. Dondy KILETEIR, 6. Walla JACOM, 7. Samson WAMILY, 8. John ALICK, 9. Esly JAPHET, 10. Ismael EDWARD, 11. Andre BATICK, 12. Marcelin PILOE, 13. Pedro WIS, 14. Nos KENNETH, 15. Remy TIMAS, 16. Michael HURI, 17. Edwin BAI, 18. Pierre MALERE, 19. Alex NALESSABONG, 20. Naruel MALIU (GK), 21. Samuel WAMILY, 22. Trevor LENGA, 23. Brian IAVRO.
Coach: Steven VAREGALI (VAN)
Auckland City FC vs. Lae City Dwellers
Mangere Centre Park
Auckland, New Zealand
Wednesday 15 March
Auckland City FC [NZL]
Vital Statistics: Auckland City FC have won the past two editions of the competition undefeated. Their last loss in the OFC Champions League was during the Group Stage of the 2014 edition, where they lost 1-0 to Vanuatu’s Amicale FC.
The Players: Emiliano Tade made a big impact in Auckland City’s opening match when he was subbed on in the 54th minute. The striker was behind the two successful set pieces to win the game, first with a well-placed free kick to set up Darren White for the equaliser, then with an accurate penalty in the 86th minute to win the match 2-1.
Coach Quote: “They’ve got three or four players up front that are one-on-one very good, very fast, so we understand it is going to be very difficult. We understand from our last game that if we don’t switch on to 100 per cent, it can turn around nasty, so hopefully we’ve learned our lesson.”
Auckland City FC: 1.Enaut ZUBIKARAI (GK), 2. Harshae RANIGA, 3. Takuya IWATA, 4. Mario BILEN, 5. Angel BERLANGA, 6. Cam HOWIESON, 7. Reid DRAKE, 8. Albert RIERA, 9. Darren WHITE, 10. Ryan DE VRIES, 11. Fabrizio TAVANO, 13. Alfie ROGERS, 14. Clayton LEWIS, 15. Mario ILICH, 16. Daewook KIM, 18. Danyon DRAKE (GK), 19. Micah LEA’ALAFA, 20. Emiliano TADE, 21. Harry EDGE, 22. Abdullah AL-KALISY, 23. Marko DORDEVIC, 24. Jacob SPOONLEY (GK)
Coach: Ramon Tribulietx (ESP)
Lae City Dwellers [PNG]
Vital Statistics: Lae City Dwellers’ 5-2 win against Malampa Revivors on Saturday was the club’s first ever win in the OFC Champions League. In their 2016 debut, the side’s campaign ended at the close of the group stage after three losses.
The Players: Lae City Dwellers captain and Papua New Guinea national team player Raymond Gunemba is a dominant force on attack. His speed is always an advantage and if he can be more accurate with his chances, he will be lethal.
Coach Quote: “Our next game is big so we need to correct our mistakes over the next few days. Auckland City are the champions of Oceania, so it will be a battle against the giants. We will give our very, very best.”
Lae City Dwellers: 1. Ronald WARISAN (GK), 2. Kenneth PILAILO, 3. Valentine NELSON, 4. Goropaul ALBERT, 5. Mosie MILUBWA, 6. Troy GUNEMBA, 7. Raymond GUNEMBA, 8. Alex KAMEN, 9. George KOREI, 10. Obert BIKA, 11. Adolf NAIDU, 12. Matthew DAVID, 13. John KICHANI, 14. Emmanuel SIMON, 15. Ken KEPE, 16. Japhet TIAMPO, 17. Billson BULLO, 18. Peter DABINYABA JNR, 19. Moses KAMAKENG, 20. Matheson NASA (GK), 21. Kiwa TEPO, 22. George DEBENHAM.
Coach: Peter Gunemba (PNG)