The OFC Champions league qualifying round is set to kick off today. The first match between Tonga’s Lotoha’apai and American Samoa’s Pago Youth will begin at 2:30 pm and match of the day will commence at 5:30 pm between Local club Tupapa Maraerenga FC and Samoa’s Kiwi FC.
Pago youth and Lotoha’apai United, the only 2 teams in this qualifying tournament to bring an entirely local team will be an interesting game. Their history has shown that Lotoha’apai has had the upper hand however Pago youth are looking like they are a side to be reckoned with. They have chosen a young line up to be able to contest the speed and agility that the Tongan team has shown in previous encounters. The two teams look to fly their country’s flag for the very first time in the group stage and are also looking at setting the stakes high in the very first game.
The next game, between Tupapa Maraerenga FC and Kiwi FC, is a battle of the rivals. Both teams have sought out the maximum allowed four international players, to help their squads to reach the next round. Tupapa went down 2-1 against Kiwi FC in their last encounter in 2016 here on local turf and are looking at turning it the other way around this time. Tupapa coach, Delaney Yaqona, says the team is ready, and that they have done what is required of them in preparation for this tournament. Their Morale is strong and they are ready to put on a show for the people of the Cook Islands.
Yaqona also mentioned that in this tournament they are not only playing for the village, but they are also playing for the country. And therefore, it would be great to see football followers out to support our club side.
Kiwi FC coach, Martin Tamasese, understands that the pressure is on in this first game. This is the first time the two teams (Tupapa and Kiwi FC) will face off on the opening day. “We played Tupapa side 3 years ago and I know they are a good team and also prepared well for the tournament.
It’s a big challenge for us to play the host team in our opening match because the first match is always tough but ready to play them.
We know we have a huge task ahead of us as we face Tupapa because they are not only the host but also a very good team this year,”.
With each team contesting with pride in today’s matchup. The heat is on.
Come down to the CIFA Complex in Matavera and support our local team. Entry is $3.