Words: OFC Media
Saturday 7 March 2020
PAPEETE, Tahiti - Auckland City FC have their eyes on earning a home quarter-final ahead of their final OFC Champions League Group D match against Lupe Ole Soaga SC.
Lupe have been the surprise package of the pool after the qualifiers upset Ba FC 4-3 in their second outing marking the first time a Samoan club had won a match in the group stage of the competition.
On the other hand, Auckland City have gone about their business with precision and have won their first two games in Group D without conceding a goal.
Home advantage in the OFC Champions League is of great importance and Auckland City coach Jose Figueira expected Lupe to pose a unique challenge at Stade Mahina in Tahiti at 5pm on Saturday (TAH time).
"They've got a real desire and hunger and unity in the team and they generally start matches very, very quickly, as they did in the first game and for sure in the second game where they took a big lead, so we've got to be ready for that," Figueira said.
"So we've got to recover and be fully focussed. We want to make sure we get that home quarter-final."
The coach said he would have a simple message for his players who only need a draw to lock up top spot in the pool.
"I think it's that we want to win every game that we play. We want to try and play and control the game and dominate."
Figueira hinted that he may rotate some of his squad for the match and defender Adam Mitchell seems likely to get a run given he is the only outfield player not to take the field in the first two fixtures.
Lupe coach Paul Ualesi said his side would not back down from the tall task of facing the Navy Blues.
"Like we've said before the start of the season, we are here to compete, we are not here to participate," he said.
"Auckland will give us some challenges but, like I said, it's good to [be] challenged. You can improve from that."
OFC Champions League - Group D
Sunday 8 March, 2020
Auckland City FC vs Lupe Ole Soaga SC
Sunday 8 March, 2020
Stade Mahina, Tahiti
Kick-off: 4.00pm NZST
Referee: George TIME (SOL)
Assistant Referee 1: Johnny NIABO (SOL)
Assistant Referee 2: Stephen SENIGA (SOL)
Fourth Official: Hamilton SIAU (SOL)
Fifth Official: Marc SINYEUE (NCL)
AC - 2. Mario ILICH, 3. Adam MITCHELL, 4. Mario BILEN, 5. Angel BERLANGA, 6. Brian KALTACK, 7. Cameron HOWIESON, 8. Albert RIERA, 9. Myer BEVAN, 10. Dylan MANICKUM, 11. Tom DOYLE, 13. Emiliano TADE, 14. Jordan VALE, 17. Andrew BLAKE, 18. Conor TRACEY, 20. Logan ROGERSON, 22. Clayton LEWIS, 23. Alfie ROGERS, 24. Cameron BROWN.
COACH - Jose FIGUEIRA
Lupe Ole Soaga SC - 2. Albert BELL, 3. Suivai ATAGA, 4. Ritchievoy UELIGITONE, 5. Tauati TANOAI, 6. Andrew SETEFANO, 7. Jamie MASON, 8. Arona MATAU, 9. Vaa TAUALAI, 10. Jarvis FILIMALAE, 11. Tomas MOSQUERA, 12. John TEO, 13. Bitner TAFILI, 14. Osa SAVELIO, 15. Ronnie BOURNE, 16. Soliai LETUTUSA, 17. Isaako SIONE, 20. Zane GREEN.
Head Coach - Paul UALESI (Samoa)
v Wellington Olympic, 11 March 2023, KO: TBC