Navy Blues eye semi-final push
The OFC Champions League semi-final chase heats up as Group B takes centre stage at Churchill Park in Lautoka today.
The first match today sees Tahiti's AS Dragon paired with defending champions Auckland City FC.
Dragon lost 1-0 to Amicale on Tuesday while Auckland comfortably beat home team Nadi 3-0 to top Group B and solidify their status as favourites to advance to the semi-finals.
Former K League player Daewook Kim made a strong contribution in his debut for the Navy Blues, scoring Auckland City's second goal after Joao Moriera's first, and on-form Emiliano Tade locked the victory in with a third just before half-time.
But a studs up tackle by Nadi striker Samuela Drudru on Tuesday means defender Angel Berlanga will be unable to suit up for the Navy Blues this afternoon. Auckland coach Ramon Tribulietx will have to re-think his back four in Berlanga's absence.
“We’ll recover and see how we shape up for the next game, obviously it looks like we’ve lost a player for the next match unfortunately.
“So just at the moment recover and then we’ll think about the next game,” he says.
His counterpart, Dragon coach Ludovic Graugnard, has been focusing on regrouping and refreshing his strategy.
Dragon will need to leave nothing in the tank after a disappointing first-half in the match led to an early goal by Amicale, eventually leading to their undoing.
“I think we need to recharge our batteries, mentally. When you lose the first match, and when you don’t have a lot of room for errors, mentally it becomes complicated. Now, the boys have to keep going, we need to breathe,” he says.
Dragon have a rare unbeaten record against the New Zealanders, earning a win and a draw from their two previous meetings.
“In terms of the game plan, we will watch Auckland’s match and see what that gives us in terms of how we can beat this team,” Graugnard says.
Amicale meet Nadi in the second match of the day at 4pm. With a solid performance and the desired result from his team, Amicale coach Nathan Hall is optimistic yet wary that Nadi will be keen to regain their home ground advantage.
“They've got home support and they'll be very, very motivated to probably lift another five to ten per cent to try and get three points in that match,” he says.
It is the first meeting for the two teams and Nadi coach Kamal Swamy has noted a key difference between the match against Auckland City and today's against Amicale.
“For Auckland City we had a game plan but for Amicale we’ll have a totally different one because they’re an island country and [have] island countries' players.
“There are a few Fijian players over there who we know very well. So we’ll work on a few areas and come up with a plan that can win us the match,” Swamy says.
Auckland and Amicale are top of Group B with three points apiece, while Dragon and Nadi are tied for last with zero points and zero goals.
The OFC Champions League marks the UNICEF Pacific, Fiji Government, OFC and Fiji FA social responsibility campaign "Kick Dengue Out of Fiji", aimed at raising awareness of Dengue Fever.
For more information about “Kick Dengue Out of Fiji” please visit www.oceaniafootball.com and download the official "Kick Dengue Out of Fiji" pamphlet located under the “Fans” banner.
The OFC also acknowledges competition partners Vodafone Fiji, Courts and Sports World.
Television stations EMTV – Papua New Guinea, Solomon Telekom TTV – Solomon Islands, VBTC – Vanuatu, FBC Fiji, Fiji TV and TNTV – Tahiti will broadcast all matches live in their nations and territories.
For radio, broadcasters FM 107 – Vanuatu, FBC Radio – Fiji and Communications Fiji Ltd will provide live coverage of matches, while OFC Radio will present live audio coverage of every match in English.
The OFC Radio (ENG) link can be accessed here: http://bit.ly/1okoVwU - with Jason PINE.
Live streaming of matches is suspended but full coverage of matches can be viewed at the official OFC TV YouTube channel later the same day.
AS Dragon v Auckland City FC
Friday 11 April, 2014
Head to head: Played 2, AS Dragon 1 win, Auckland City FC 0 wins, 1 draw.
AS Dragon Form: L
The players: All players present and accounted for from Tuesday's loss to Amicale. Defender Nicolas VALLAR will be integral for Dragon again today if they want to keep Auckland out of the box.
The vital statistics: With an unbeaten record against the defending champions, Dragon have the statistical edge in their 8th Champions League game.
Squad list: 1. Mikael ROCHE [GK], 2. Victor SNOW, 3. Stanley ATANI, 4. Pierre KUGOGNE, 5. Henri CAROINE, 6. Jacques TETAUIRA, 7. Efrain ARANEDA, 8. Yannick VERO, 9. Samuel HNANYINE, 10. Teaonui TEHAU, 11. Andre TEIKIHAKAUPOKO, 12. Alvin TEHAU, 13. Steevy CHONG HUE, 14. Dylan PAAMA, 16. Edson LEMAIRE, 17. Sylvain GRAGLIA, 18. Teheipuarii HAUATA [GK], 19. Teata SIMON, 20. Torea MARUOI, 21. Jonathan TEHAU, 22. Nicolas VALLAR, 23. Rainui RUA, 24. Pembele GONGUI, 25. Tamatoa WAGEMAN, 26. Sebastien GAIRIN, 27. Alessandro VALLAR
Coach: Ludovic GRAUGNARD (FRA)
Auckland City Form: W
The players: Auckland City are without key defender Angel BERLANGA after he was brought down by Nadi's Samuela Drudru on the stroke of full-time on Tuesday. Sean LOVEMORE may make his debut if selected for the squad today. Alex FENERIDIS is injured after rolling his ankle at training.
The vital statistics: Their last game against Dragon ended in a draw but a convincing win in their 50th game gives Auckland the experience and momentum to make this a potentially gripping match up.
Squad list: 1. Tamati WILLIAMS [GK], 3. Takuya IWATA, 4. Mario BILEN, 6. John IRVING, 7. James PRITCHETT, 9. Darren WHITE, 10. Ryan de VRIES, 14. Adam DICKINSON, 15. Ivan VICELICH, 16. Daewook KIM, 17. Joao MOREIRA, 18. Louie CAUNTER [GK], 19. David BROWNE, 20. Emiliano TADE, 22. Andrew MILNE, 23. Sam BURFOOT, 25. Sean LOVEMORE, 26. Sean MORRIS, 21. Mario ILICH
Coach: Ramon TRIBULIETX (ESP)
Nadi FC v Amicale FC
Friday 11 April, 2014
Head to head: No previous meetings.
Nadi FC Form: L
The players: Samuela DRUDRU is suspended after a direct red card from the last minute tackle on Auckland City's Angel BERLANGA.
The vital statistics: It's a clean slate on the head-to-head front between Nadi and Amicale today. A loss on Tuesday makes this a must-win for Kamal SWAMY's side.
Squad list: 1. Vereti DICKSON [GK], 2. Malakai RAKULA, 3. Rahul KRISHNA, 4. Jone SALAUNEUNE, 5. Rusiate MATAREREGA, 6. Astley LEE, 7. Ratu BAINIVALU, 8. Krishna SAMI, 9. Vuniuci TIKOMAIMEREKE, 10. Uraia LOKI, 11. Ilimotama JESE, 12. Ame VOTONIU, 13. Lekima GONERAU, 14. Samuela DRUDRU, 15. Napolioni QASEVAKATINI, 16. Amani VALEBALAVU, 17. Mataiasi TOMA, 18. Eliki RAVOSAI, 19. Shafim BUKSH, 20. Jolame VUKUVUKI, 21. Beniamino MATEINAQARA [GK], 22. Levi SAUKURU [GK], 23. William VALENTINE, 24. Arvin PRATAP, 25. Isoa RATUVA
Coach: Kamal SWAMY (FIJ)
Amicale FC Form: W
The players: Playmaker Esava NAQALECA will be integral for Nathan HALL's side once more. Having formerly played for Suva FC in the National Football League, his familiarity with Fijian competition may prove the edge in today's fixture.
The vital statistics: Tuesday's goalscorer Francois SAKAMA makes his 10th appearance in the Champions League today.
Squad list: 1. Chikau MANSALE [GK], 4. Davide TALONE, 6. Sivan SWAMY, 7. Alick MAEMAE, 8. Milan MATIC, 9. Esava NAQELECA, 10. Nikola VASILIC, 13. Francois SAKAMA, 15. Alphonse BONGNAIM, 16. Daniel NATOU, 17. Nelson SALE, 18. Robert TOM, 20. Michael RUTHERFORD [GK], 21. Paul YOUNG, 23. Roddy LENGA, 24. Kensi TANGIS, 25. Laitia TUILAU, 26. Silas NAMATAK, 27. Octav MELTECOIN, 28. Johnny TIRAENG, 29. Dominique FRED, 30. Jack WETNEY, 31. Marko DORDEVIC, 32. Rodney SERVEUX, 33. Joel NAKAPUE [GK], 34. Colin MARSHALL, 35. Richard ANISUA, 38. Barry MANSALE
Coach: Nathan HALL
Please note squads are subject to change.
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