Quar­tet To Get Champions League Started

Fiji Sun - - Sports - Feed­back: leonec@fi­jisun.com.fj

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.

Spon­sors

The OFC would like to ac­knowl­edge its spon­sors iRENA, Te­likom PNG, Konika Mi­nolta, Tranzit Coach­lines, Fru­cor and UNICEF.

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