Into the un­known for TW

The Dominion Post - - Sport - LIAM HYSLOP

A fa­mil­iar, but sur­pris­ing, face will greet Team Welling­ton be­fore their first match of the Ocea­nia Foot­ball Con­fed­er­a­tion Cham­pi­ons League.

It had been ex­pected the face would be that of for­mer Team Welling­ton coach Matt Cal­cott on the Puaikura FC bench to­mor­row at Stade Yoshida in Kone, New Cale­do­nia.

But he has parted ways with the Cook Is­lands club, re­placed by for­mer All Whites coach Kevin Fal­lon.

Cal­cott’s Kiwi im­port play­ers, who helped the team qual­ify for this stage of the com­pe­ti­tion, will also not be par­tic­i­pat­ing. They will re­placed by Fal­lon’s Manukau City play­ers Paul Day, Hone Fowler, Jeremias Perez and An­dre Estay, as well as South­ern United goal­keeper Liam Lit­tle.

Team Welling­ton coach Jose Figueira said with all the un­cer­tainty their fo­cus would be on the things they could con­trol.

‘‘I think re­gard­less of who is in charge that first game, we’re play­ing some­one we’ve never played be­fore, none of the play­ers have been to New Cale­do­nia be­fore ei­ther, so it’s im­por­tant that we hit the ground run­ning and cer­tainly won’t be tak­ing that first game lightly that’s for sure.’’

Figueira felt the other two sides in the pool, Fiji’s Ba and New Cale­do­nia’s Hienghene Sport, could be more dif­fi­cult op­po­nents.

‘‘Ba are ob­vi­ously well known and al­though they fin­ished run­ner-up in Fiji they’re al­ways up there and the lo­cal team, Hienghene Sport, their coach was on my A-Li­cence course so he’s a good guy, a good coach, switched-on, and I think they’ve got three or four in the na­tional team who ran the All Whites pretty close.

‘‘All three games have the po­ten­tial to be a ba­nana skin, but I think Hienghene will pose us the most ques­tions along with Ba.’’

Team Welling­ton ar­rive in hot do­mes­tic form, with a 7-2 win over Waitakere United fol­lowed by a 3-1 tri­umph away to South­ern United.

There were lessons to be learned from the lat­ter win, where they went up 3-0 early on, but did not kick on with the game, Figueira said.

‘‘Against South­ern we fell into the trap of play­ing how they were play­ing, it got quite phys­i­cal and di­rect and we suf­fered for it for a lit­tle pe­riod of the game.

‘‘Go­ing over to face teams you don’t know about, we’ve got to go over there and stamp our mark on how we want to play and con­trol the game.’’

There will be six games in a week on the Stade Yoshida pitch but Figueira said all re­ports in­di­cated it was in good con­di­tion.

‘‘If it’s not, we’ll have to adapt our game a lit­tle bit, but I think we’ve got enough qual­ity and tech­ni­cians in the side to cope.’’

PHOTOTEK.NZ

For­mer All Whites coach Kevin Fal­lon will take charge of Puaikura at the OFC Cham­pi­ons League.

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