OFC Champions League

Next stage unveiled in battle for Oceania club supremacy

The revised competition format, which was adapted in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic to reduce travel requirements on teams, is split into two phases.

Stage one will determine which clubs contest stage two, which will be an eight-team centralised finals tournament scheduled for August this year.

Fiji, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu will stage home and away playoffs – involving the champion and runner up from their respective national league – through June, from which each winner will secure qualification to the finals tournament.

OFC Champions League cancelled due to Covid

The competition reached the quarter-final stage after pool play in February and March before the pandemic took hold.

The OFC Champions League playoff matches were due to be played in April and May but were delayed multiple times.

Clubs from New Zealand, Vanuatu, Tahiti, Solomon Islands and New Caledonia had advanced to the knockout stages.

The winner of this year's OFC Champions League was set to attend the FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar in December.

PNG to host OFC Champions League Group A

PNGFA President John Kapi Natto said this will be the first time for Papua New Guinea to host a group match of the region’s premier international club competition.

“We are excited and looking forward to host an international tournament,” Kapi Natto said.

“It will be a good change for Papua New Guinea football fans to witness Hekari United in action on home soil against top clubs from New Zealand, New Caledonia and Vanuatu in February next year. The event will take place from Feb 16-22.”

Toti City Dwellers in high spirits

Upon arrival yesterday at the Jackson’s International Airport, coach Peter Gunemba said making it to the quarter finals is a success story for the team.

Toti City Dwellers FC, formerly known as the Lae City Dwellers, were undefeated in their Group A matches, registering one win and two draws at Stade Yoshida in New Caledonia. 

They finished two points behind group leaders and hosts, Hienghene.

Toti City coach Peter Gunemba said the toughest teams were pooled in Group A, and the high competition pushed his boys beyond their limits.

Samoa’s Kiwi FC returns to the scene

The qualifying stage of the Champions League is scheduled to kick off on 26 January until 1 February in the Cook Islands.

Coach Martin Tamasese acknowledges that it’s going to be a challenging tournament especially since their opening match is against Tupapa FC the Cook Islands National Champions.

“Seeing the draw and playing them (Tupapa FC) in the opening match will really challenge our preparations” he said, “they will be playing on home ground and we know they prepared well including the recruitment from abroad form some experienced players.”

Welly and Marist through to OFC Champions League quarters

“I’m delighted. We knew it was going to be a big challenge to come over here, to acclimatise and lastly to face three good, good teams and I think it’s been evident all three games that the level and the intensity and quality of the Champions League is raising every year,” Team Wellington coach Jose Figuiera said after securing top of the group.

“I was really pleased with the way we topped the week off today.”

Wellington defeat Samoan club champions Lupe Ole Soaga

Team Wellington had no trouble as Taylor Schrijvers nailed the opening goal within the first two minutes of the match.

It set the tone for a Team Wellington goal-fest as the side’s Guernsey FC recruit Ross Allen found his form to net twice in the first half. His hat-trick came on the 68th minute, at which point it was time for a breather as coach Jose Figuiera brought Daniel Mulholland on.

The 20-year-old Jack-Henry Sinclair scored a tidy goal at the end of the first half, with substitutes Mulholland and Nathaneael Hailemariam rounding out the scoring.

Group D still an open race

Team Wellington are also keen to secure a win and keep the dream alive, after dropping their first ever Group Stage points in the draw with Marist, when they face Samoa club champions Lupe Ole Soaga in the opening match at Lawson Tama Tuesday.

In the three previous OFC Champions League editions they’ve featured in, Team Wellington had never lost or drawn a match which makes the 1-1 draw against the favourites from New Zealand a feat for Marist.

Samoa's Lupe Ole Soaga seeking major improvements

The Samoan domestic winners finished second in last month's qualifying tournament in Pago Pago, behind Tupapa Maraerenga, to advance to the main draw.

Their only slip-up was a 1-0 defeat against the Cook Islands club, where they were reduced to ten men.

Coach Paul Ualesi said discipline remains a key focus.

"Trying to get the boys to work as a team. For now we're still working hard for the discipline - that's the main thing that we need to improve from the first round, that's an area that we're trying to work," he said.

Tupapa seal OFC Champions League return

The Cook Islands club last featured in the main draw back in 2001 and this is the first time they've progressed to the Group Stage via the Qualifier.

Sean Latimer put Tupapa in control with two goals in the opening 22 minutes and, along with Maro Bonsu-Maro, ended the match with a hat-trick.

Soakai Vea won a penalty for Veitongo after the half hour but lost his cool and was shown a red card.