The first day of the 2018 Oceania Champions League is over and the matches were not without drama. Here’s a full roundup of the games from Pago Park Soccer Stadium in American Samoa
Tupapa Maraerenga – Lupe Ole Soaga 1-0
Two moments of poor discipline cost Samoan side Lupe Ole Soaga as they lost 1-0 to Cook Islanders Tupapa Maraerenga.
In the first half both teams were testing the waters and Tupapa Maraerenga thought they had taken the lead after half an hour when a free kick from Hone Fowler was brought back into the box from the goal line and tapped in by Grover Harmon, but the assistant referee felt the ball had crossed the line and the goal was disallowed. Looking closer at the replay shows that may not have been the right call.
What do you think? Watch the situation below
31′ 📺 We have to see that again! Hone FOWLER’s free kick is played back in off the goal line and tapped into the back of the net – BUT the flag signals the ball went out. Check it out: https://t.co/LEipaefFvq #OFCCLQ #TUPLUP 0-0
— OFC Champions League (@OFCChampsLeague) January 20, 2018
That was the most exciting thing that happened in the first half, but over in the second things really kicked off, literally.
First Lupe had a goal disallowed for offside, so now both teams could have taken the lead, and that was the last positive thing for Lupe this afternoon in Pago Pago.
Just past the hour mark and Tupapa’s Campbell Best and Lupe’s Vaa Taualai were wrestling for the ball. Both went down but Taualai, clearly agitated, got back to his feet and kicked out at Best. Best responded by facing off with the Samoan and after the referee, David Yareboinen, had calmed everyone down and conferred with the fourth official he handed Best a yellow card and gave Taualai his marching orders. Andrew Setefano also got a yellow card for protest in the aftermath of the sending off,
Watch the incident here
— Football in Oceania (@Ftbl_Oceania) January 21, 2018
After going down to ten men, Lupe lost the momentum they had and Tupapa came pouring forward. After 75 minutes another loss of discipline gave Tupapa a penalty as Andrew Setefano hurled himself with both feet at Pachok Abba and brought him to the ground. Englishman Sean Latimer who had been active up top for Tupapa all day made no mistake and sent Tupapa in front.
That was all she wrote really. Lupe tried a few times, especially Toni Lapalapa came close but in the end the penalty and the red card proved too costly for the Samoans who now have a big job to do if they want to go through to the Group Stage.
See full match highlights in the video below
Veitongo – Pago Youth 1-1
The hosts Pago Youth are expected to struggle in this Qualifier but gave the home crowd something to cheer for with an amazing goal. Veitongo, who lost out on goal difference to Lupe Ole Soaga last year, could put pressure on the Samoans with a win but failed to do so.
Soakai Vea and the OFC too, thought he had given Veitongo the lead from a free kick but the goal was disallowed for offside, which looks correct when seeing the replay as a Veitongo player blocks the view for the goalkeeper while in an offside position. No one at the OFC or commentator Gordon Watson caught the reversal of the goal however and all the way through to the end of the game they displayed the score with one more Veitongo goal than it should have been.
Then the crowd were up on their feet. Nissan Silao sent a ball high up in the air from a seemingly innocent free kick in his own half. The ball travelled all the way in to Veitongo goalkeeper Motekai Faupula who misjudged the bounce of the ball and where the crossbar was and let the ball bounce over him and into the goal. It all looked rather comical but Pago Youth were now in front and could secure a great win.
Watch the goal here
— OFC Champions League (@OFCChampsLeague) January 21, 2018
Over in the second half and this game would also include a red card. After an hour of play substitute Ruben Luvu Jr., who came on for Paul Collins after only 11 minutes, got shown his second yellow card and had to take an early shower. This meant that Pago Youth would have to survive with one man less.
Veitongo continued to pile on the pressure and got their reward in added time. After some scrambling the ball fell to Sione Uhatahi who sent the ball past the Pago Youth keeper from close range.
The Tongans could even have snatched the win in added time but were denied by Moimoi Tualaulelei who saved Sione Tuifangaloka’s shot and kept the score even.
See full highlights here
This means that Tupapa Maraerenga has taken control of the group with Pago Youth and Veitongo fighting for the second place and Lupe bringing up the back end.
Next matches, Tuesday 23rd January (all times are local):
12:00 Veitongo – Tupapa Maraerenga
15:00 Pago Youth – Lupe Ole Soaga