December 7, 2023

Reigning champions first to qualify for OCL

Hiengène Sport became the first team to qualify for the 2022 OFC Champions League.

OFC President Lambert Maltock presents Hienghene Sport’s Bertrand Kai with the Champions League trophy after the OFC Champions League 2019 Final. They will have the chance to defend their title this year. (Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek)

They did so after beating SC Ne Drehu 4-3 on aggregate after two legs in the New Caledonia national playoff this weekend.

Following a dramatic first leg, where two goals in the final seven minutes from Hienghène saw it end 2-2, the 2019 OCL champions took care of business in the second leg.

Veteran striker Bertrand Kai scored two goals at Stade Numa Daly in Nouméa, to give his Hienghène side the chance to defend their title.

Watch the highlights below:

Due to the effects of the coronavirus and to reduce travel on the teams, the OFC Nations will host national qualifiers to decide who will meet up in an eight team tournament in a single location, scheduled for August.

In addition to New Caledonia, Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu will hold two-legged playoffs between their two national representatives, while Papua New Guinea and Tahiti’s representatives will duke it out in a single leg. The champions of Cook Islands, Tonga, American Samoa and Samoa will play each other at a centralised location, set to be determined.

Auckland City have been chosen by the NZF to be the New Zealand representative.

The remaining playoff games (All times are local):

June 14 | AS Pirae v AS Venus at Stade Pater, Papeete – 8.00pm kickoff (Tahiti)

June 17 | Rewa FC v Lautoka FC at Churchill Park, Lautoka – 7.00pm kickoff (Fiji)

June 18 | RueRue FC v Galaxy FC at Luganville Soccer City Stadium, Luganville – 2.00pm (Vanuatu)

June 19 | Lautoka FC v Rewa FC at Ratu Cakobau Park, Suva – 3.00pm kickoff (Fiji)

June 19 | Solomon Warriors FC v Central Coast FC at Lawson Tama Stadium – 3.00pm kickoff (Solomon Islands)

June 25 | Central Coast FC v Solomon Warriors FC at Lawson Tama Stadium – 3.00pm kickoff (Solomon Islands)

June 25 | Galaxy FC v RueRue FC at Korman Stadium, Port Vila – 2.00pm kickoff (Vanuatu)

June 25 | Lae City FC v Hekari United FC at PNG Football Stadium, Port Moresby – 3.00pm kickoff (Papua New Guinea)

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