Auckland City, Solomon Warriors and AS Magenta are heading into the final match day of Group D with all to play for as two quarterfinal places are on offer at Lawson Tama Stadium in Honiara, Solomon Islands on Saturday.
Occupying the top spots in Group D, Auckland City and Solomon Warriors will conclude the group in a thrilling decider.
In the day’s earlier encounter, AS Magenta could put themselves in the mix for the quarterfinals if they beat winless Tupapa Maraerenga with a huge margin.
Also at stake is the right to host a quarterfinal tie at home and finishing top of the group should be a primary target for the Group D hopefuls.
AS Magenta coach Allain Moizan said qualification to the quarterfinals is achievable on the final match day against Tupapa Maraerenga.
“It’s a game which, before playing Warriors, posed a problem but now it’s a game which we can let ourselves go relatively, with qualification almost certainly achieved,” he said.
“We’ll play this game, I’ve just finished telling the players that it’s a match we have to take seriously, with respect for our opponent. We know we will win, it’s obvious, but in respect to our opponent I want us to play good football – and also for the spectators who will come to the stadium I want it to be a good match and not a parody.
“For me, as I’ve just said, it’s about respecting the opponent. To score a lot of goals it’s respecting the opponent – Auckland did the work, in respecting Tupapa they scored 15 goals. It’s not to humiliate them, in football it’s always about respect for the opponent and scoring when we can score, so for us it’s a challenge to try and put in the maximum number of goals.”
Playing in the group stage has been tough for Tupapa Maraerenga but the Cook Islanders would be proud to go out on a positive note.
Tupapa Maraerenga coach Delaney Yaqona said his players have learn a lot in their opening matches ahead of the final encounter with AS Magenta.
“If you look at the first two games we played, the first one we didn’t start well, the second one we did start very well but unfortunately things fell apart in the second half,” he said.
“In their last game AS Magenta had a very good game against the Solomon Warriors so they’ll be very confident. It’s about going out there and trying to put in a complete performance but luckily for us we still have a game to go so that is what we will be aiming for.
“It’s keeping that focus throughout the game, we did it for about half the game in our last game and it’s making sure we go into that second half maintaining that focus and that awareness of what’s going on around the field.”
Nine-time champions Auckland City are favourites to claim top spot but standing in their way is a Solomon Warriors side who will be aiming to bounce back from their disappointing defeat to AS Magenta on Wednesday.
Auckland City coach Ramon Tribulietx has had guided his team against the Solomon Warriors in past encounters and the Spaniard is wary of the hosts.
“The last one is the most important one and probably the most difficult one, we’re playing against the local team, they had disappointment yesterday (Wednesday), being the organizers, the hosts I’m pretty sure they will try to get out there and play a pretty good game,” he said.
“Obviously the only opportunity they have after that unfortunate defeat yesterday so we’re expecting a very difficult game and after having been here for a long time it’s probably where you get a little more tired at the end of the tour so we understand it’s going to be a very difficult one.
“We need to understand how to play against them which things are going to try to help us in regards to the taking the game to our side with the ball and make sure we are well recovered we’ve got a couple of days now and see how we are looking for Saturday and make a call in regards to how and who is playing.”
Hosts Solomon Warriors still have a slim chance to make it out the group stage after the AS Magenta defeat.
Moses Toata, Solomon Warriors coach has dubbed the match against Auckland City as the biggest game so far for the Honiara based club.
“First of all I’d like to say it was the toughest match of the competition for us, but I think from the loss the boys are determined to win the final match against Auckland City so the boys are in preparation, a bit of recovery too,” he said.
“But yea, I think they will agree with me that they will have to win the last game.”
Toata added that he has a faire idea of how Auckland City play based on past meetings in the OFC Champions League.
The former Solomon Islands international stressed he is focusing on what they can do against the Navy Blues.
“We’ve played Auckland City a few times already we know what they will do, basically we have to plan ahead to try and manage their style of play but as a coach I’m confident that we can take them even though they will come into the game with more confidence because of the caliber of players they have with the likes of Micah and Browne, but we have to do what we must do to win the game because we are in desperate need of three points to stay in the competition,” Toata stated.
The hosts will depend heavily on the result of the match between AS Magenta and Tupapa Maraerenga to go in their favour.
“We’re hoping that the final match between Tupapa and Magenta will be six or less but it’s football, anything happens, so we’ll see. I would like to ask the public to come out and support our boys, it’s a very important match for us so we might need the 12th player on the field for Saturday, so I’m appealing to all the public in Honiara to come out and support,” the Solomon Warriors tactician stressed.
AS Magenta vs. Tupapa Maraerenga
Saturday 2 March 2019
Lawson Tama Stadium
Honiara, Solomon Islands
Referee: Sione LELENGA (TGA)
Assistant Referee 1: Folio MOEAKI (TGA)
Assistant Referee 2: Colin LUWONG (PNG)
Fourth Official: Sione MAU (AMS)
AS Magenta: 1. Steeve IXOEE, 2. Jean Christ WAJOKA, 3. Jean Brice WADRIAKO, 4. Gaeton GOPE-IWATE, 5. Mickael TIAOU, 6. Iler HNAUK, 7. Kevin MAITRAN, 8. Nathanael HMAEN, 9. Emile OUNEI, 10. Richard SELE, 11. Shene WELEPANE, 13. Jean-Marie HMALOKO, 15. Didier SIMANE, 16. Nicodem HMAEN, 17. Yorick HNAUTRA, 18. Leon WAHNAWE, 21. Wilsen POAMENO
Coach: Alain MOIZAN (France)
Tupapa Maraerenga: 1. Tahiri ELIKANA, 2. Mii JOSEPH, 3. Willyn KARIKA, 4. Tyrell BARRINGER-TAHIRI, 5. Ishaq NAZEEM, 6. Anthony SAMUELA, 7. Harlem SIMIONA, 8. Edward BROGAN, 9. Geoffrey STRICKLAND, 10. Grover HARMON, 13. George KONUSI, 14. Pekay EDWARDS, 15. Roimata KARIKA, 17. Lee HARMON, 19. Peni KITIONA, 20. Manaariki PIERRE
Coach: Delaney YAQONA (Fiji)
Solomon Warriors vs. Auckland City
Saturday 2 March 2019
Lawson Tama Stadium
Honiara, Solomon Islands
Referee: David YAREBOINEN (PNG)
Assistant Referee 1: Tevita MAKASINI (TGA)
Assistant Referee 2: David CHARLES (PNG)
Fourth Official: Joel HOPKEN (VAN)
Solomon Warriors: 1. Phillip MANGO, 2. Haddis AENGARI, 3. Allen PETER, 4. Aengari GAGAME, 5. Fred FAKARI, 6. Molea TIGI, 7. Atkin KAUA, 8. John ALICK, 9. Jerry DONGA, 11. Robert LAUA, 14. Augustine SAMANI, 15, Alvin HOU, 16. Emmanuel POILA, 20. Harry MASAE, 22. Bata FURAI, 24. Kensi TANGIS, 26. Loea MANI, 28. Timothy MAEARASIA
Coach: Moses TOATA (Solomon Islands)
Auckland City: 1. Enaut ZUBIKARAI, 2. Darren WHITE, 5. Angel BERLANGA, 7. Cameron HOWIESON, 8. Albert RIERA, 10. Micah LEA’ALAFA, 11. Fabrizio TAVANO, 12. Dylan MANICKUM, 14. Jordan VALE, 15. Daniel MORGAN, 16. Yousif ALI, 17. Reid DRAKE, 18. Ruben PARKER, 19. David BROWNE, 20. Te Atawhai HUDSON-WIHONGI, 21. Maro BONSU-MARO, 22. Omar GUARDIOLA, 23. Alfie ROGERS
Coach: Ramon TRIBULIETX (Spain)