After two flights and a long-drive out to their destination, Rarotonga Club champions Puaikura FC have finally arrived into Kone, New Caledonia for the OFC Champions League Group Stage tournament from 25 February to 5 March.
Following their recent success at the Qualifiers in Tonga last month, Puaikura FC earned the remaining spot in the Group B division of the tournament with Team Wellington, Fiji’s Team Ba and New Caledonia’s Hienghene Sport team.
Three days out from their opening match against last year’s runner up winners, Team Wellington, the Cook Islands’ club champs are sticking close to remain focus and positive for their big week ahead.
The traveling side left Rarotonga on Monday night taking over nine local-based players and team officials who will soon be joined by nine overseas players including veteran import Hone Fowler and former Tupapa OFC Champions League representatives Harlem Simiona and Ishak Mohammed.
Also joining the forces will be the well-established Kevin Fallon as head coach to lead and guide the team through the intensive journey.
The schedule is already appearing busy for the players who had their first training session yesterday afternoon and will play three matches over the week.
According to club president and team manager, Junior Areai, they know it is going to be very tough to win a game at this level of competition especially coming from a tiny nation in the Oceania group.
“We have come this far in achieving a milestone by qualifying for stage two of the OFC Champions League and for us to progress from here will be a counted bonus,” he said.
On Saturday, Puaikura FC will play against Team Wellington at Stade Yoshiba at 8:00pm local time.
For live updates follow the Oceania Football Confederation website www.oceaniafootball.com or @OFCfootball on Twitter.
Puaikura FC team list: Liam Little, Jarves Aperau, Anthony Samuela, Pekay Edwards, Paul Poila, Kimiora Samuela, Samuel Cox, Grover Harmon, Tyrell Tahiri, Jeremias Perez, Dwayne Tiputoa, Harlem Simiona, Andre Estay, Ishak Mohammed, Junior Matangi, Hone Fowler, Paul Day, Conroy Tiputoa. Team officials: Head coach- Kevin Fallon, Team manager- Junior Areai & Physio- Michelle Pravin.