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Stage set for historic futsal tournament

Oceania futsal history will be created at Auckland’s Barfoot and Thompson Stadium when the inaugural  OFC Futsal Champions League gets underway on Thursday afternoon.

The four-day tournament will feature six teams representing New Zealand, Fiji, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, Tahiti and Vanuatu all of whom will be vying to be crowned as our region’s leading futsal club.

Fittingly the teams will be competing on a brand new, purpose-built portable court which has been laid down at the venue to mark the historic occasion.

On the back of a highly successful and thrilling Futsal Nations Cup in New Caledonia just over a month ago, OFC Competitions Director Chris Kemp is excited about the inclusion of a brand new international futsal competition in the OFC calendar.

“Futsal is a very popular across the Pacific and the recent OFC Futsal Nations Cup has proved how competitive the teams are across our member associations,” he said.

“I’m confident the first ever OFC Champions League tournament will again deliver a keenly contested, entertaining and high quality competition throughout the four days,” Kemp added.

2018 New Zealand champions AFF come into the tournament with a hometown confidence despite finishing only in 6th place in the 2019 edition of the national league.

Key Futsal Whites including  player-coach Marvin Eakins, Dylan Manickum, Josh Margetts and Elias Billeh will all be hoping to end the year with a regional title following the heart breaking  penalty-shoot defeat to the Solomon Islands in the final of the OFC Futsal Nations Cup.

Meanwhile Solomon Islands Futsal League Champions Kooline FC are determined to follow up the Kurukuru’s Nations Cup triumph with another victorious campaign.

The men in sky blue have earned the right to represent their country in the tournament by winning the Solomon Islands Ports Authority (SIPA) 2019 Futsal League with a superior goal difference to runners-up Marist FC.

Following their success in New Caledonia, Anthony Talo, Coleman Makau, Elis Mana, Arnold Maeluma and Alvin Hou will be all hoping to maintain their winning form at club level .

Former Kurukuru player and national U-17 Futsal coach Stanley Puirana in charge of the team will be  banking on the experience of his Kurukuru stars to lead  the team.

Tahitian representatives AS Pirae will also be hoping to build on the national team’s third place finish at the OFC Futsal Nations Cup, when they kick off their maiden international competition.

Heifara Deane’s  squad has  a new look since they won the 2018/2019 edition of the Futsal Top Nike championship following five changes to start the new season that got underway last month.

Pirae’s new additions include national players Matana Bea and the leading goalscorer from the OFC Futsal Nations Cup Olivier Hirihiri.

VFF National Futsal champions D’York Street have qualified for the tournament in Auckland by topping the country’s four-team finals tournament.

After finishing second during the round-robin stage, D’York edged past Tongoa UTD 5-4 in the title decider.

Despite flying under the radar as a somewhat unknown quantity the Vanuatu representatives have a couple of players with international experience including Jesse Takaro who is the leading goal scorer in the New Zealand Far North Futsal League.

AS PTT have finished New Caledonia’s 16-round national league level on points with AS University before qualifying for the Auckland tournament when University was penalised with a 7-point deduction.

Representing the Pacific region’s most established league with a highly competitive home-and-away season, AS PTT will begin the competition match hardened and high on confidence.

Manu Tu’alau’s squad include a number of key national team players with the likes of Cedrick Humuni and Chris Pei.

2019 Futsal Inter District Cup winners Suva FC will be without some of their key players due to travel restrictions.

The Fijians will be hoping prolific Manukau United striker Sanni Issa will be able to repeat his goalscoring exploits in the indoor version of the game.

The action will kick off at 4pm on Thursday 5 December with the tournament opener between AS Pirae and Kooline FC followed by the clash between D’York Street and Suva FC before the day’s third and final match between hosts AFF and AS PTT at 8pm.

All matches will be live streamed on the OFC website and on mycujoo.

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