City aim to finish group stage in style

Words: ACFC Media

Friday 19 May 2023

LUGANVILLE -Vanuatu,  Auckland City FC will be looking for their third win from as many games when they face Samoan Group A rivals  Lupe Ole Soaga SC on the final match day at Luganville’s Soccer City Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The Navy Blues, who have secured their place in the semifinals of the 2023 OFC Champions League with a game to spare, will depart for Port Vila at the conclusion of the match while Lupe who have already been eliminated from the tournament will return to Samoa. 

The New Zealand representatives produced two impressive performances defeating both the Solomon Warriors and Suva FC with the same 3-1 scoreline and they will go into their final group encounter as favourites against the Samoans still searching for their first points of the competition.

The two sides have met once before at Oceania’s premier club football stage with Auckland City recording a 2-0 win back in 2020.

At that same tournament Lupe became the first Samoan team to win an OFC Champions League group stage match, defeating Fiji’s Ba FC 4-3, at Stade Mahina in Tahiti.

And the Apia based club showed promising form during their 2023 qualifying tournament in February by thrashing Ilaoa & To’omata from American Samoa 13-0,  before cruising past Tonga’s Veitongo FC 9-0 and Cook Islands champions Tupapa Maraerenga FC 7-1.

However in their opening match at Luganville’s Soccer Stadium, Vaalii Faalogo’s charges were humbled by a rampant Suva side to go down 6-0, before a 3-1 defeat to the Solomon Warriors in what was a much improved performance by the Samoans. 

Auckland City coach Albert Riera, who watched Lupe’s match against the Solomon Islanders, believes the Samoan outfit showed plenty of promise in attack and were unlucky not to score more against the Warriors.

“I saw them and their result was way better than in their first one (against Suva), they scored one goal but I though it could have been more than that.”

Rieara insists his side will not take anything for granted and will be looking for another professional performance that could see them finishing the group stage with maximum points.

“To us it’s all about improving and improving, I think it’s one of the strengths of this team, they always know, no matter who you are playing, you always have to give your best and we will have to do that again,” said the City coach

Meanwhile his Samoan counterpart will be hoping his side can improve on their previous performance against the Warriors when they face the defending champions in their final match of the competition.

“We’ve always  looked up to Auckland City and we know they are going to be a very difficult opponent. We go back to the drawing board and hopefully we can put some of our learnings into practice in the game against Auckland City.,” said Faalogo.

OFC Champions League - Group A - MD 3
Saturday 20 May 2023
Lupe Ole Soaga SC v Auckland City FC
Luganville Soccer City Stadium, Vanuatu
Kick-off: 12.00 pm local time / 1.00pm NZST

LIVE: WATCH HERE

AC - 1. Conor TRACEY (GK) 2. Mario ILICH, 3. Adam MITCHELL,4. Christian GRAY, 5. Michael DEN HEIJER, 6. Dan MORGAN, 7. Cam HOWIESON (c) 8. Gerard GARRIGA , 9. Angus KILKOLLY, 10. Dylan MANICKUM, 11. Ryan DE VRIES,  12. Regont MURATI, 13. Nathan LOBO, 14. Jordan VALE, 15. Aidan CAREY, 16. Joseph LEE, 19. Liam GILLION, 22. Tong ZHOU, 23. Matt ELLIS, 24. Joe WALLIS (GK)

Coach: Albert RIERA
Assistant coach: Ivan VICELICH
Goalkeeper coach: Enaut ZUBIKARAI
Technical: Adria CASALS 
Physiotherapist: Matt PAYNE
Logistics Manager: Keith COTON
General Manager: Gordon WATSON 

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