- Sixteen-team OFC Champions League kicks-off this weekend
- Hienghene Sport search to defend crown after sudden title
- Winner to function in 2020 FIFA Membership World Cup
For almost a decade it appeared New Zealand’s stranglehold on the OFC Champions League was unshakeable. Auckland Metropolis led the way in which with a world file seven straight continental membership titles, whereas Staff Wellington maintained NZ’s domination on the again finish of the last decade.
Final 12 months, nonetheless, unheralded New Caledonia aspect Hienghene Sport – a membership with a modest historic file even at home stage – broke by means of to win the event on a memorable night in Noumea. They usually subsequently received hearts with a gallant however luckless displaying on the FIFA Membership World Cup in Qatar.
This 12 months 16 golf equipment from 9 of the Oceania Soccer Confederation’s 11 Member Associations will line up chasing continental glory. Additionally on provide is passage to the FIFA Membership World Cup Qatar 2020™ – the final version to be performed in its present format.
The highest-two in every group will meet within the quarter-finals in April. Not like final 12 months, nonetheless, the last-eight and last-four ties will happen over two legs earlier than the one-off ultimate on 16 Could.
This 12 months’s motion commences on Saturday within the Vanuatu-hosted Group B. Hienghene will open Group A motion on Sunday beneath a blazing Port Moresby noon solar. Teams C and D will start on the opening weekend of March with file holders Auckland Metropolis headlining the latter group.
Group A: Hienghene Sport (New Caledonia), Japanese Suburbs (New Zealand), Hekari United (Papua New Guinea), Galaxy FC (Vanuatu)
Quirkily, Hienghene have been drawn into the identical group because the final non-New Zealand aspect to win the Champions League; Papua New Guinea’s Hekari United. Additionally lining up are New Zealand champions and event debutants Japanese Suburbs, plus Galaxy FC from Vanuatu, who’re additionally first-timers. “It’s not about what occurred yesterday, or final 12 months,” mentioned Hienghene talisman Bertrand Kai. “However we’re skilled, we belief one another, we’re focussed, we all know tips on how to win and now we have a powerful mentality.”
Group B: Malampa Revivors (Vanuatu), Lae Metropolis (Papua New Guinea), Henderson Eels (Solomon Islands), Lautoka (Fiji)
Group B golf equipment collectively deliver solely a modest quantity of expertise at regional stage, however a number of fascinating gamers are unfold throughout the quartet. Lae Metropolis line up with a stack of PNG internationals, together with the free-scoring Raymond Gunemba. Solomon Islands’ Henderson Eels have included richly gifted teenager Raphael Le’ai with the ahead instrumental within the nation’s breakthrough qualification for final 12 months’s FIFA U-17 World Cup.
Group C: AS Magenta (New Caledonia), AS Tiare Tahiti (Tahiti), Solomon Warriors (Solomon Islands), Tupapa Maraerenga (Prepare dinner Islands)
After final 12 months’s heartbreaking defeat within the all-New Caledonia Champions League ultimate, AS Magenta could have added incentive this marketing campaign. New Caledonia’s most profitable membership this century instantly discovered themselves eclipsed by new boys Hienghene on each the continental and native stage. Prepare dinner Islands’ Tupapa Maraerenga certified by way of the preliminary stage and face a tricky problem to remain aggressive.
Group D: Auckland Metropolis FC (New Zealand), Ba FC (Fiji) and AS Venus (Tahiti), Lupe Ole Soaga (Samoa)
Auckland Metropolis line up for his or her 16th consecutive continental marketing campaign and for the primary time in 9 years Spaniard Ramon Tribulietx shouldn’t be on the helm, with former Staff Wellington boss Jose Figueira assuming the reins. As at all times the Navy Blues will begin as favourites however the Tahiti-based group will provide each soccer and environmental challenges, with Ba and native outfit AS Venus the primary challengers.