Lupe Ole Soaga SC captain Andrew Setefano says his team is dedicating their performance at the upcoming OFC Champions League 2020 Qualifying Stage to their homeland following the recent measles outbreak.
More than 80 people have died in Samoa during the measles epidemic but the village where Lupe play their football was not badly affected.
The players have arrived in Auckland in good health ahead of their opening game of the Qualifying Stage as they search for a spot in the OFC Champions League 2020.
They will meet Tonga’s Veitongo FC at the Ngahue Reserve in Auckland on Saturday afternoon and will be playing for their nation.
“That’s been sad news for us for the past few months and that didn’t stop us from training,” Setefano said of the measles epidemic.
“It’s a big motivation for us because this tournament here, we are going to dedicate to our country and our family back at home, especially those who lost their lives.”
Setefano, a defender, has been captain of Lupe for four years and after missing qualification for the group stages of the OFC Champions League last year, they’re hungry to return.
“We are feeling really excited and we are looking forward to the game on Saturday.”
He is a long-time footballer having got his start in the game through his father and began playing in youth tournaments when he was 10.
Now 32, Setefano also captains the Samoan national side and models his game on Spanish legend Sergio Ramos.
“I like the way he plays; he’s got good leadership and sometimes he risks his life for his club to defend the goal and he’s a hero sometimes,” Setefano said.
“I like playing the way he plays, with strong leadership and solid defence.”
If Setefano can turn in a Ramos-like performance tomorrow against Veitongo it will go a long way to helping his side earn a victory.