Quartet To Get Champions League Started
Nadi FA, AS Magenta and Kiwi FC will be hoping to make a triumphant return to the prestigious competition Kiwi FC will come into the competition as underdogs given they qualify to the competition via the preliminary competition competing with Tonga, American Samoa and Cook Islands.
The 2016 OFC Champions League is set to get underway with a hiss and a roar when Group C open the action at QBE Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand today. Three of the teams were absent from the 2015 edition, Nadi FA of Fiji, AS Magenta from New Caledonia and Preliminary winners Kiwi FC of Samoa, and all will be hoping to make a triumphant return to the prestigious competition. AS Tefana of Tahiti round out the group, a side which experienced disappointing results by their own standard in 2015, earning just one draw and two losses in their three group matches. Coach Sebastian Labayen says he has retained a strong core from their previous campaign, adding the likes of Nicholas Vallar, 2012 Tahiti captain, to reinforce the group. After missing out through injury in 2015, goalkeeper Xavier Samin is back and hoping to secure a starting spot but will have stiff competition from up-and-coming keeper Stevens Hiriga, as well as national goalkeeper Mikael Roche. Kiwi FC will come into the competition as underdogs given they qualify to the competition via the preliminary competition where they compete with the Tonga, American Samoa and Cook Islands champions for a berth at the Champions League proper.
Nadi FA, like their counterparts from Samoa, struggled to make the leap to OFC Champions League level in 2014. Neither side managed to score a goal in that edition, and Kamal Swamy is keen to write a different story into the history books this time around.
With Fiji international Napolioni Qasevakatini leading the charge his strike force is in good stead with the U-23 representative having played a key role in helping Fiji qualify for their first Olympic Football Tournament. AS Magenta started slow in 2014 and former national team coach Alain Moizan knows that is what cost them a semi-final berth two years ago. He has a strong squad that mixes experience, the likes of Noel Kaudre, Pierre Wajoka and Koris Gorendiawe, with youth and talent in the form of Marius Bako, Loic Wakanumune and Marek Aucher.
The OFC would like to acknowledge its sponsors iRENA, Telikom PNG, Konika Minolta, Tranzit Coachlines, Frucor and UNICEF.